Eight Things We Hope Disney Brings Back in 2021
New Year’s Day marked a massive improvement at Walt Disney World theme parks.
Disney brought back Park Hopping for the first time since the pandemic started.
This changed signified a turning of the tide across Disney parks. The worst is over, as the parks return to normal.
Here are eight things we hope Disney brings back in 2021…and the sooner, the better!
The holiday season just ended, which means you’re still playing with your Christmas toys and maybe shaking off a champagne hangover.
However, Disney fans will always remember 2020 as the year EPCOT didn’t host the Candlelight Processional.
Magic Kingdom hosted the first one of these all the way back in 1971, less than three months after the park opened.
Before that, Disneyland had started the tradition in 1955. Carolers have been a part of Disney theme parks since the beginning.
That tradition ended last year, at least temporarily, due to social distancing requirements.
Hopefully, by November, enough people will have received vaccinations, enabling Disney to host this gala event once again.
Disney without Christmas caroling feels wrong. And we missed Neil Patrick Harris as Candlelight Processional narrator, too.
We’re already getting warmer on this one.
When Disney theme parks reopened, character meetings weren’t possible. Management substituted Cavalcades instead.
Since then, the parks have gotten a bit more innovative, as Disney characters appear at random intervals to liven up the crowds.
Some characters appear at the Main Street, U.S.A. train station, while others hang out at World Showcase pavilions.
You never know what you might see on a given day.
Similarly, character meals have increased across Walt Disney World.
Most recently, the Fab Five returned at Chef Mickey’s, which felt like a huge win for Disney fans.
However, we all miss the real deal, those personal interactions with characters.
I don’t mean socially distanced waves with a bit of shouting so that the character can hear you.
I’m talking about the return of actual character meetings, the kind you stand in line to experience.
Disney Villains After Hours
Just 18 months ago, Magic Kingdom unveiled a modified version of Disney After Hours.
The standard ticketed event entitles guests to park access when the Magic Kingdom is closed to regular visitors.
With Disney After Hours, “all” you get is a chance to ride everything at Magic Kingdom without waiting in line.
The last time I attended, I rode nearly 20 attractions and could have done more.
Well, Disney Villains After Hours is like that, only better.
On top of the unprecedented ride access, Magic Kingdom throws a party starring Disney Villains.
The shows and parades will delight even the most casual Disney fans.
Magic Kingdom hasn’t hosted a ticketed event in 11 months, but we’re all hopeful that one’s just around the corner.
EPCOT Pavilion Shows
At the start of the pandemic, park officials reacted quickly to social distancing concerns. They canceled several long-standing EPCOT shows.
Some performers like the JAMMitors and Mariachi Cobre relocated to America Gardens Theatre at the American Experience pavilion.
Others like Matsuriza Taiko and Sergio the Master Juggler lost their jobs after years of loyal service and high-quality entertainment.
When you visit World Showcase pavilions now, they’re still wildly entertaining, of course. Disney long ago perfected the premise of each one.
However, something is missing at places like the United Kingdom and Canada pavilions.
Without British Revolution, Off Kilter, or Bodh’aktan performing at the pavilions, the places seem…quieter, which reminds me that there’s a pandemic.
The beauty of the World Showcase is that each pavilion always feels kinetic and bursting with activity.
The bands are integral to that vibe. We need them back for the World Showcase to feel whole again.
During the late-1950s, Walt Disney authorized the testing of a new concept at Disneyland’s parking lot.
The entrepreneur had struggled to keep guests in the park after dark.
So, when someone suggested the idea of fireworks, Disney wasn’t gung-ho about the idea.
He was better described as desperate and willing to try anything.
However, the idea proved popular enough that Disneyland expanded the concept.
More than 60 years later, it was impossible to imagine the end of a park day without fireworks.
Then, Coronavirus wreaked havoc with society. So, park officials couldn’t host an event that would cause overcrowding.
Ergo, we haven’t had fireworks since mid-March. Disney has tested Magic Kingdom fireworks multiple times recently, though.
So, hope is growing that fireworks presentations will return to the parks soon.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
For many loyal Walt Disney World vacationers, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) has become a family tradition.
In fact, these events sell so many tickets that Disney has highlighted the party more in recent years.
In 2019, for the first time ever, guests could purchase an all-access pass to (almost) all MNSSHP events for the year.
Also, Disney Villains After Hours counts as a poorly disguised MNSSHP clone throughout the year.
This Halloween party has grown so popular that it lasted for most of 2019.
Then, Coronavirus caused the cancellation of all ticketed events, leaving Halloween fans alone in the dark.
An October at Magic Kingdom without Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party feels wrong. We need it back in 2021.
The same problems apply here that did with fireworks and character greetings.
Parades draw such crowds at Disney theme parks that at least one restaurant started selling ticket packages.
For a few dollars more, guests could dine at the restaurant and then enjoy reserved seating for the parade.
Obviously, Disney wouldn’t do this unless the parades were crowded. And that sort of popularity somehow became a bad thing in 2020.
I’m one of the strongest proponents of Cavalcades, which I hope stay after the pandemic ends.
Still, I’ll be first in line to watch a real parade as soon as Disney brings them back.
I’ve saved this one for last because it’s the most important of the bunch.
The Happiest Place on Earth needs to come back. The entire theme park industry feels imbalanced and just plain wrong without Disneyland.
For more than 65 years, this park never closed for consecutive days. Now, it’s been shuttered since March.
We’re in month ten of Disneyland’s absence, and that’s enough.
As soon as California’s latest outbreak ends, we all hope that Disneyland will make its triumphant, long overdue return.
Remember that when Disneyland Resort reopens, Avengers Campus is just around the corner, too!