Biggest Disney Rumors for December 2020
As we begin 2021, Disney theme parks remain in flux, with three parks currently closed due to Coronavirus.
The Walt Disney Company has understandably cut back on some of its park projects, at least until the pandemic subsides.
So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to update the status of various rumored projects, stating which ones are still viable and which ones are dead.
The Future World Updates
Two years ago, I discussed the future of Future World. At the time, park insiders had hinted that dramatic changes were coming.
The front of EPCOT had remained mostly the same since 1982, and most fans acknowledged that this themed land required reinvigoration.
That plussing is underway as we speak. Imagineers have modernized the pylons near the entrance and done some stuff to enhance the visual splendor.
Disney will break Future World into three themed lands, and those plans will move forward.
However, some elements like the Moana water feature may get scaled back.
This sort of reduction in design happens regularly with attractions and isn’t cause for alarm.
Similarly, Spaceship Earth’s re-theming appears certain. It just won’t happen at the expected pace.
In fact, Disney has already missed that window, as Imagineers should have spent the last six months working on the structure’s interior.
Instead, park officials decided that with so much turmoil in Future World, Spaceship Earth needed to provide stability for now.
So, all the rumors here were true, although budget cuts may change the projected outcomes.
Journey into Imagination
In that same article and at least one other, I discussed the future of the Imagination! pavilion.
Park management loves the building’s structure and the underlying concept.
The ride that anchors the building, Journey into Imagination with Figment, appeals to guests, just not as much as the original version.
For years, some outspoken fans have called for change. Disney has heard their cries and contemplated various updates to the attraction.
My understanding is that a Figment re-theming wouldn’t have happened until 2022 at the earliest.
Now, budgetary constraints have pushed those back even further.
As such, the current version of Journey into Imagination is likely the one we’ll have for the next several years.
Other EPCOT Changes
I’d previously discussed two other potential changes coming to EPCOT.
The headline-grabber involved a Mary Poppins attraction at the United Kingdom pavilion.
Frankly, the World Showcase needs more rides, and everyone at Disney understands this.
At D-23 last year, Disney announced the Mary Poppins ride. So, this rumor was confirmed…and then died soon afterward.
Park budget cuts have forced a reduction in scope on current projects. Potential future ones like Mary Poppins are a non-starter right now.
Similarly, I’d mentioned a potential re-theming or addition to The Seas with Nemo & Friends. That plan is obviously not happening.
Returning to the back of the park, the current pavilion count appears set in stone for a while.
Before D-23 last year, someone posted a plausible story that he had worked with Disney to hire and train Brazilian cast members.
This person maintained that Disney would reveal a Brazil pavilion during the exhibit. That story got passed around as fact.
Once the event ended, people realized that no such pavilion had gotten the greenlight.
I tend to believe that there was some truth to this rumor. I’d previously discussed the possibility of a Brazil or India pavilion or maybe even both.
The teeth of these rumors centered on a Jungle Book-based boat ride akin to Shanghai Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure.
As you might imagine, that idea has proven far too expensive for Disney’s current financial status.
For that matter, Disney only recently took over the Morocco pavilion. Building another one may not sound appealing right now anyway.
Hollywood Studios Updates
Okay, this section is grim. Virtually every rumor I’m tracking at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is in peril or dead at the moment.
The only expansion we’ll get at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge anytime soon isn’t actually in the park.
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser should open by the end of 2021. Executives have prioritized that project since it’s a surefire revenue generator.
Other proposed expansions at Black Spire Outpost are on hold until Disney’s back in the black.
Now, that date may happen faster than expected thanks to the vaccine(s) and the scintillating pace of Disney+.
Still, I’d discussed how park officials had weighed expansion plans for Star Wars and Avatar’s themed lands.
Obviously, such enhancements would cost a fortune, and both places already drive attendances for their respective parks.
Of course, one other potential themed land could have gone at Disney’s Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios.
I’m referencing the proposed Indiana Jones Land. Some rumors suggested Disney would slot it at Hollywood Studios.
Others indicated that DinoLand U.S.A. would go the way of the Dodo bird to allow for Indiana Jones. Those plans are off the table for now, too.
In fact, the only Hollywood Studios-based rumor that isn’t currently on hiatus already exists at the park.
I’d talked about the possibility of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway receiving duplicates at other theme parks.
Those plans remain in place, starting at Disneyland in 2022. So, that rumor lives for now and is even confirmed at one location.
I’ll add that Indiana Jones rumors could pick up steam in mid-2022. The fifth Indiana Jones movie will come out that July.
Should the film dominate the box office, Disney executives would warm to the idea of an entire themed land.
About the Black Box
I want to touch on one more rumor this month. Last May, I described the proposed Black Box attraction.
Imagineers have created technology that allows for one space to host a wealth of attractions.
The idea is that Disney could swap out rides as needed. One month, guests could re-live the glory of The Great Movie Ride.
A few weeks later, the same space could entertain guests with a Fantastic Four ride.
In other words, Disney has cracked the code on something that could satisfy guests who miss retired attractions.
Utilizing the same Black Box, the company could also market upcoming movies or television programs by connecting them to a ride.
Everything would count as a limited engagement, enticing guests to visit the parks more regularly.
The theoretical applications of this technology boggle the mind. Disney could ostensibly build an entire park of Black Box attractions.
Then, each park visit would be singularly unique and impossible to duplicate later.
I’m getting waaaaaaaay ahead of myself here, but I want to stress the groundbreaking, disruptive nature of the concept.
Unlike many rumors I’ve listed here, the Black Box is apparently still in the planning phase.
Some insiders believe that it’ll even debut at the PLAY! pavilion at EPCOT. That sounds too good to be true, but I remain optimistic.
We may yet experience a ride that somehow brings us the best of Disney’s past AND future.