11 Current/Upcoming Disney Changes You Need to Know
Walt Disney believed in the importance of change and evolution in theme parks, which is good because the Disney empire continues down that path.
A few months ago, 2021 appeared likely to go down as another dull year due to the pandemic. Much has changed in just three months.
Now, Disney has started to commit to a full-fledged 2021 theme park campaign full of changes, cancellations, and enhancements.
Here are 11 new and changing features at Disney theme parks and resorts.
Recent changes in California’s health and safety guidelines have sped up the timeline.
Until last month, Disneyland officials privately hoped for a return by the park’s anniversary on July 17th.
Instead, Disneyland can now reopen on April 30th. Technically, only California residents may visit the parks for the time being.
Disney believes that’s a formality, though. One day very soon, the Happiest Place on Earth will be available to everyone again!
Eighteen-Month Party at WDW
By now, you’ve heard the news. Walt Disney World is throwing a party. It’ll start on October 1st and last through March of 2023!
Yes, Walt Disney World turns 50 this October, and Disney will celebrate by adding new special effects at all its theme park landmarks.
The Tree of Life, Spaceship Earth, Cinderella Castle, and the Hollywood Tower Hotel will add new lighting tricks to appear even more magical.
Also, Mickey and Minnie Mouse will wear colorful new costumes that match Cinderella Castle’s latest update.
Your Walt Disney World anniversary photos will look terrific!
End of Magical Express
Disney has made some tough business decisions during the pandemic.
I don’t think any of them have cut harder than this news. Starting on January 1st, 2022, Walt Disney World will eliminate Magical Express.
This service has proven invaluable to guests staying at official Disney resorts over the years.
Alas, Mears Transportation laid off many of its drivers when the pandemic occurred.
Since then, Disney obviously hasn’t felt like Mears was worth the price.
So, you should enjoy Magical Express while it lasts. On the plus side, Brightline’s high-speed digital rail service should debut in 2023.
As such, the inconvenience appears temporary.
Festival of The Lion King Will Return
When Walt Disney World reopened, many shows didn’t come back.
Disney picked only the ones with limited casts to ensure social distancing backstage.
For this reason, some speculated that the Festival of The Lion King might never return.
After all, Disney laid off the cast, a group of professional tumblers and other performers. So, their availability remained in question for a comeback.
Thankfully, Disney recently announced that the Festival of The Lion King will reopen at Disney’s Animal Kingdom this summer.
So, that’s one less thing to worry about while planning your next visit.
Hall of Presidents Changes
The 2020 election felt like it dragged on forever, making it the perfect representation of the entire year.
However, 2021 has already started night and day better thanks to the well-organized vaccine distribution program.
With calm waters ahead, park officials have tried to soothe the political dialogue.
Almost immediately after the election, Disney closed the Hall of Presidents, ostensibly to update as usual with a new POTUS taking office.
So, this attraction will return at a later date with Joe Biden introduced as the latest Audio-Animatronic.
Jungle Cruise and Splash Mountain Changes
Disney has always embraced diverse cultures going back to the company’s earliest days.
Alas, some stories haven’t aged as well as others, causing some discomfort among loyal fans.
Two rides, in particular, Jungle Cruise and Splash Mountain, don’t demonstrate the best examples of representation.
For this reason, Disney has correctly chosen to modernize the rides and turn them into more culturally appropriate stories.
Meanwhile, Jungle Cruise will tell a new story centered on the Jungle Skipper. Both updates should add new life to the decades-old attractions.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
When Walt Disney World closed last March, EPCOT fans felt like they got left high and dry.
Everyone had expected the debut of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure that summer.
In fact, Disney had hinted at a June opening just before the pandemic struck.
Afterward, we were all left speculating whether the ride could open in 2020.
Like so much of the early pandemic speculation, those thoughts seem ridiculous now, as the Ratatouille ride still isn’t quite ready.
However, EPCOT recently announced that it WILL open Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure on October 1st, the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World.
Are you ready to shrink down to the size of a rat and terrorize a kitchen? It’s almost time!
Snow White’s Enchanted Wish
When Disneyland reopens in April, it’ll come with an unexpected bonus.
The reimagining of Snow White’s Scary Adventures will finally come to fruition.
Imagineers had been hard at work on this change when the pandemic hit. The former Scary Adventures closed permanently on January 6th, 2020.
Disney had indicated its return date as May 21st, 2020, but…well, you know.
So, we’ve all waited excitedly for the arrival of the newer, more upbeat story. And we’ll finally get it on April 30th!
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Ends
A small but loyal group of Disney fans expressed dismay in January when their favorite interactive attraction closed.
Since 2012, Magic Kingdom guests could play a game hidden in plain sight.
These park visitors sought to unearth the mysteries of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom.
During this game, guests battled Hades and his minions, other Disney villains.
Players cast spells by using cards a la Magic: The Gathering.
Alas, the popularity of the game plummeted once smartphones soared in popularity. Carrying around physical spell cards didn’t appeal to them.
Sadly, this behavior forced Disney to cancel Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom.
Fans hope that it might return as a smartphone game at some point, though.
A Water Park Reopens
For nearly a year, all Walt Disney World water parks remained closed.
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon had closed in January of 2020 as part of scheduled renovations.
The surprise occurred when Disney’s Blizzard Bench went offline in March due to Coronavirus.
While the theme parks managed to reopen last July, Disney paid attention to CDC regulations involving water parks.
Also, park officials questioned whether consumer demand justified park operation, a concern that proved valid.
A neighboring competitor, Universal’s Volcano Bay, reopened for a time but then closed prematurely in early November due to low admissions.
Disney correctly decided to wait until early 2021, bringing back Blizzard Beach in early March.
We’re still awaiting word on Typhoon Lagoon, but Disney does have an operational water park, which is more than we’d hoped for at the start of 2021.
WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure
With Disneyland reopening, we’d hoped for an announcement about the opening of Avengers Campus.
Disney had previously stated that it’d open in July of 2020. Alas, that date proved impossible.
While the Snow White attraction renovations will be ready in time for Disneyland’s return, Avengers Campus isn’t quite there yet.
Still, Disney has promised that the themed land will arrive at some point in 2021.
The new attraction will be WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, an interactive 3-D ride that lets you become a superhero.
You’ll use arm gestures to pretend like you’re doing some web-slinging! Save the day, hero!
Feature Image Rights: Disney