Disney Attractions and Shows We Lost in 2020
Walt Disney World entered a transitional phase a few years ago. I would argue that it started with the New Fantasyland makeover in 2012.
Since then, changes have come fast and furious at various Disney theme parks, triggering a domino effect that leads back to the main office.
Disruption has impacted virtually all businesses, at least to some degree, and Disney’s no different.
Then, the pandemic occurred, and that microwaved some of the changes that executives had for their company.
Some stuff regrettably got lost along the way, as strategists plan for a better future.
Here are some Disney attractions and shows we lost in 2020.
Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure
For many years now, Disney has operated an interactive game at the World Showcase.
From 2009 to 2012, Kim Possible starred in a spy adventure scavenger hunt.
Once Kim Possible went off the air, EPCOT pivoted to the hottest Disney Channel show at the time.
Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure featured the heroic platypus from Phineas and Ferb in a…different spy adventure scavenger hunt.
By 2020, the show had been off the air for five years already.
So, Disney updated the theme to a current but also retro television show.
You can now play DuckTales World Showcase Adventure.
I’ve got nothing against DuckTales, but it’s a distant third to Phineas and Ferb and Kim Possible.
Frozen on Broadway
Most of the stuff we’ll discuss died at the parks. However, Disney cut corners in other parts of its media empire as well.
Frozen on Broadway comes with an asterisk. The entirety of Broadway closed at the start of the pandemic and likely won’t open for another 6+ months.
Even so, Frozen belongs on this list because Disney has already confirmed that the play won’t return. Its Broadway run has ended.
Fans who want to watch the Frozen musical will need to take a Disney cruise from now on.
The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra
Some of these cancellations are absolutely heartbreaking, especially to longtime Disney fans.
For example, the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra has been an indelible part of a visit to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa for 32 years now.
Oddly, the pandemic may not have been the driving factor in this band’s termination.
Disney had revamped the two-story hotel lobby in 2019 and early 2020. In the process, the band’s stage had vanished.
However, after Walt Disney World reopened, park officials relocated the band to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a while.
So, there was at least an attempt to keep the act going at Walt Disney World.
Alas, Disney eventually decided to cancel that show and thereby end the orchestra’s tenure.
Thankfully, you can still find the band members performing at other Central Florida events. Their Disney days are over, though.
A Taiko is a barrel-shaped drum. So, you can guess which act I’m referencing here.
Since the opening of EPCOT, the Japan pavilion has included some sort of organized drum performance.
This sort of rhythmic drumming is considered an art in Japan, and Disney has imported musicians to entertain EPCOT guests.
Alas, Disney’s Cultural Representation Program has gone on hiatus during the pandemic.
Recent government legislation has made visas more challenging to earn and keep as well.
Ergo, park officials had multiple reasons to cancel the Matsuriza Taiko act, at least for now. I’m hopeful this one returns one day soon.
In 2017, park officials broke my heart by closing DisneyQuest, the interactive arcade at Disney Springs.
As a diehard gamer and trivia buff, I always found plenty to do at DisneyQuest.
At the time, Disney announced that the replacement would highlight the NBA, a loyal business partner.
Through ABC and ESPN, Disney hosts countless NBA games each season.
As such, the idea of an NBA attraction made perfect sense. Then, the NBA Experience opened in August of 2019 and bombed completely.
There was simply no demand for this shopping and gaming center. After mere weeks, cast members reported that the place was a ghost town.
In March, Coronavirus closed the entirety of Disney Springs, but some parts reopened by the end of May.
The NBA Experience didn’t return at that time, though. Soon afterward, employees revealed that Disney had laid off the entire staff.
A modified version of this concept could come back once the pandemic ends. However, it appears left for dead.
The Pirates League
This Magic Kingdom offering has kept a lower profile than a similar premise.
You know about Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, right? Well, The Pirates League is the equivalent, only you get made up to look like a dread pirate or mermaid.
I always thought this concept seemed like a lot of fun. Alas, Disney closed the experience in July, presumably for good.
Despite plenty of rumors to the contrary, Disney only closed one ride in calendar 2020. And its death was long expected.
Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom consistently ranked at or near the bottom of park surveys.
Guests never knew quite what to think of this quirky, spinning roller coaster attraction.
Over the last two years, Primeval Whirl had switched to seasonal operation.
After the pandemic, Disney finally gave up the ghost and put the ride out of its misery. The harsh reality is that few will miss it.
Here’s an absolute shocker.
For nearly 25 years, Radio Disney had entertained music fans with its carefully branded pop music offerings.
Many Disney stars like Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, the cast of High School Musical, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez got their start here.
Alas, terrestrial radio is dying, and satellite radio isn’t much of a breadwinner, either.
So, Disney killed off its entire radio division, thereby ending a memorable era in pop culture.
On the plus side, Radio Disney still exists as a YouTube channel.
Rivers of Light
A few years ago, Disney revealed that Animal Kingdom would remain open after dark, a much-anticipated park evolution.
As part of the new operating hours, Animal Kingdom would host a light show that paid tribute to the park’s core values.
Once the show opened, Rivers of Light satisfied few guests.
Sure, it was shiny, but the story made so little sense that Disney had to change it. Three times.
Eventually, the human cast members were removed from the presentation, turning it into a glow-in-the-dark smoke show.
Rivers of Light was supposed to entice guests to stay in the park later and watch the presentation.
Perennial poor attendance proved that people weren’t persuaded.
While I thought the show looked gorgeous, I must admit that Disney should have canceled it long before 2020.
Sergio the Master Juggler
Like the Taiko show, Sergio fell victim to EPCOT’s pandemic-related struggles.
Live performances tend to draw a crowd, which is a massive no-no during the age of social distancing.
Sadly, the Master Juggler announced on his Facebook page that Disney had let him go, although he expressed hope that he may return one day soon.
If you’ve never watched this show at the Italy pavilion, it’s quite impressive, albeit loud. That dude loooooves his whistle.
Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away
When Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened, it became the place for fans to watch interactive shows.
Characters like Rey and Chewbacca roam the outskirts of Black Spire Outpost while Stormtroopers man the rooftops.
These live experiences entertain guests in a way that a regular staged presentation never could.
As such, Disney’s Hollywood Studios ended all performances of Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away.
Theoretically, the park could bring this show back, but it doesn’t seem to fit Galaxy’s Edge’s overall motif.
In fact, this closure occurred before the pandemic.
Most of the changes I list here fall somewhere between understandable and heartbreaking.
The VOID slots into a different category: extremely acrimonious.
Nobody’s quite sure what happened, but Disney posted an eviction notice on the front door of The VOID at Downtown Disney.
At the time, the Disney Springs location didn’t get one, but the writing was literally on the wall.
Disney firmly stated that The VOID had violated licensing agreements. Once that bridge gets burned, it cannot ever be rebuilt.
So, the eventual closure of The VOID surprised no one. This one’s going to wind up in court.
Yehaa Bob Jackson
The final crushing cast member cancellation is Yehaa Bob Jackson, the entertainer who has held down the fort at River Roost for many years.
After Disney theme parks reopened, management at Disney’s Port Orleans –Riverside didn’t fire Yehaa Bob immediately.
They must have hoped that they could avoid that fate. Alas, by the end of September, a budget crunch forced the company’s hand.
Disney relieved Jackson of his duties after 23 years of high-quality performances.
Thankfully, you can still catch some of his live shows on his Facebook page.