Disney Rumors for August 2020
Disney fans received some fantastic news last week.
As part of the second-quarter earnings report, company executives confirmed something surprising.
Disney has reduced theme park capital expenditures by only $700 million, not the $900 million the company had previously announced.
Obviously, Disney is doing better than its executives had expected. So the parks will not suffer as many cuts as expected.
What does this mean for some upcoming attractions and amenities?
Nobody knows for sure, but I’ll tell you what I’ve heard in this month’s Disney rumors update.
The Lost Resort?
As I’ve mentioned in the last few updates, most current Disney rumors fall somewhere between disappointing and soul-crushing.
Nobody’s quite sure which projects will survive, and we fear the worst on some.
However, Disney just added $200 million back to its coffers. That’s a substantial amount of income that could save several plans…eventually.
No pandemic-impacted company will recklessly spend money until this situation has resolved, and the economy has stabilized.
So, the best-case scenario for most projects is that they undergo delays but don’t get canceled outright.
Some announced constructions don’t fall into this category.
For example, Disney revealed Reflections – a Disney Lakeside Lodge at the 2019 D-23 Expo.
This hotel should become the latest entry in the Disney Vacation Club collection, and the eta had been 2022.
Alas, Disney stopped talking about Reflections after the pandemic started, which is noteworthy because construction crews were already on site.
These workers had razed the grounds and started developing the land where the hotel would go.
Recently, several web sleuths came to the same conclusion. Disney may have quietly canceled Reflections.
Some people noticed that the Parks Blog update from D-23 no longer displays any mention of the resort. Here’s proof:
NEW: Disney has updated its 2019 D23 Expo announcements blog post and removed Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge. BEFORE and AFTER screenshots attached.
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) August 10, 2020
You can verify the changes at the official Parks Blog page, which is noticeably absent of Reflections mentions.
How much can we draw from this change? I’m honestly not sure because that post still discusses the Mary Poppins attraction.
So, I must allow for the possibility that bad news for Reflections means fantastic news for United Kingdom pavilion fans.
Then again, I’m told in no uncertain terms that the Mary Poppins ride isn’t happening now, at least anytime soon.
Very few people are in the loop on these discussions, which means the rest of us are left guessing.
Another factor explains the inconsistency in rumors this summer. Disney installed a new CEO in late-February, just before the pandemic reached America.
As the new guy, Bob Chapek wanted to shake things up and bring in a bunch of people he could trust.
So, he promoted Josh D’Amaro as Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.
Since D’Amaro had just run Walt Disney World, someone else needed to take that job, which Jeff Vahle did. Similarly, Kent Potrock is now President at Disneyland.
With so many new people in charge, the chain of command has changed entirely in a matter of months.
We just don’t know how many of Disney’s conventional practices remain in place.
I say this because leaks suggest that Project Nugget has started at Walt Disney World.
What is that? Well, it’s apparently the codename Disney officials have given for all 50th anniversary celebratory events at Walt Disney World.
Historically, anything with a codename represents a significant undertaking, as we saw with Project Stardust at Disneyland.
A Modest Birthday Party?
Is that still the case under Chapek? Some insiders have suggested that Project Nugget is actually quite modest in scope.
What does that mean? For starters, Disney apparently won’t celebrate the anniversary on January 1st.
Instead, Walt Disney World will wait until either the official date, October 1st, or just before then to kick off the festivities.
This thought process lines up with the current Park Pass system, which ends the week before the 50th anniversary in 2021.
Also, this strategy fits the current pandemic timeline well.
Many epidemiologists have pointed to the first half of 2021 as the likeliest time for a cure.
Disney doesn’t want to throw a birthday party in the middle of a pandemic. That’s the quickest way to suffer an outbreak AND a social media drubbing.
So, waiting until October makes sense. And Disney could celebrate for a year or more after that.
People will definitely be ready for a party once the pandemic has ended. I would expect the 50th-anniversary festivities to last until the end of 2022.
So, this 50th birthday party could last for 15 months!
Oh, and I haven’t confirmed it with anyone, but some folks are convinced the Main Street Electrical Parade may return to Magic Kingdom for the party.
Logically and logistically, this strategy makes sense. Disney wouldn’t have to invest in new parade construction and training, a key consideration right now.
Meanwhile, the pieces for the Main Street Electrical Parade are ready and waiting for transfer at Disneyland.
Nobody I trust has confirmed this plan yet, but the math definitely checks out.
A Few EPCOT Updates
I previously mentioned Mary Poppins, the EPCOT attraction that now seems delayed rather than canceled.
A couple of other EPCOT projects have updates as well.
The one that probably has you most excited is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
Director James Gunn has faced some questions over the timing of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 since he’s also working on the next Suicide Squad film.
Gunn recently doubled down on the belief that the third Guardians will come out in 2022.
Presuming that’s true, the cast can film scenes for the roller coaster during principal photography, just as they did for Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
This timeline would suggest that Cosmic Rewind will debut in 2021 or possibly early 2022.
Disney would obviously prefer to have the coaster ready for the 50th-anniversary celebration, but that’s ultimately up to the pandemic.
The other EPCOT story I’m chasing centers on the status of the festival pavilion.
At D-23, Disney officials displayed dazzling images of a state-of-the-art multi-level Festival Center at World Celebration.
I’m again unable to confirm the rumor thus far, but some insiders suggest this project is either delayed, reduced in scope, or (*gulp*) both.
Interestingly, the PLAY! pavilion is moving forward at a solid pace. And Disney even leaked that a monorail attraction will anchor part of it.
In fact, I’m hoping to uncover more about this attraction for a rumor piece later this year, but nothing is guaranteed. Everyone’s lips are sealed right now.