Incredible Disney Rumors for April 2021
Over the past few weeks, we’ve watched one rumor die screaming while another comes back to life.
Also, we just received word about the return of something extraordinary and may extrapolate a bit from there.
I’ll bring you up to speed in the latest Disney Rumors update for April of 2021!
Could Disney Move Its Corporate Offices
In January, I speculated about a hot early-year rumor. Over the past three months, we’ve learned more about the possible changes.
Let’s start with a discussion of the basics. The Walt Disney Company has engaged in some high-profile battles with California politicians lately.
The Anaheim City Council held its ground over a two-block change for a Disney hotel, thereby killing the project.
Park officials had planned on a $267 million tax credit that they lost due to in-fighting on the council.
Some anti-Disney candidates had run on the platform of stopping the company from imposing its will on Anaheim.
Then, during the pandemic, the Governor refused to allow theme parks to reopen until the situation stabilized.
Disneyland had scheduled its opening in July. Then, Bob Iger quit the California Economic Recovery Task Force in October.
Executives couldn’t get California’s health board to reopen theme parks until March of 2021, a full year after the pandemic.
New CEO Bob Chapek and outgoing former CEO Bob Iger have expressed frustration over the intransigence of many California officials.
Contrast that to Florida, a place where – for better and for worse – the entire state has remained wide open for a while.
The state’s Governor recently chose to raise taxes for citizens rather than for Florida businesses.
If you live in Florida, that’s less than ideal. If you’re a multinational conglomerate like Disney, that’s an enticing business opportunity.
The destination for some upcoming Disney enterprises is Lake Nona, Florida, a place with currently cheap land that will soar in future years.
However, we learned last week that the company isn’t entirely moving to Florida.
Otherwise, Chapek wouldn’t have bought a $12.5 million home an hour from Los Angeles.
So, some operations may switch coasts, but Disney will still have a California base.
The Confirmed Disney Hotel May Have Died
One of the most challenging parts of discussing rumors each month is how some stuff keeps floating to the top.
A concept will grow popular for a time. Then, someone will run the numbers, decide that the project doesn’t make sense, and place it on the backburner.
A recent example involves Spaceship Earth. During the 2019 D23 Expo, Chapek revealed that the attraction would undergo a fundamental change.
Disney wouldn’t re-theme the ride per se, but it would feature a new kind of story. One single point-of-view, a “story light,” would drive all disparate scenes.
The premise sounded delightful. Alas, the financial damage caused by Coronavirus forced park officials to make some tough choices.
Spaceship Earth turned into a cap casualty, as its new storyline may not happen until 2024 or later. In fact, it may never happen now.
The perils of rumors are that they’re only proposals until someone breaks ground. Even then, something could change after the fact.
To wit, Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge also gained attention at D-23. This Disney Vacation Club hotel would have opened in 2022 if not for COVID-19.
Instead, the budget shortfall temporarily delayed the project…and that delay may have turned permanent.
Recently filed paperwork suggests that the construction offices on this build site will get demolished soon. This entire resort may never happen.
An Unconfirmed Disney Hotel May Live!
Maybe Reflections had to die for something else to live. Another potential hotel that I’ve previously mentioned has moved back into the conversation.
For years, insiders have known about the planned Disney hotel near the front gate of EPCOT.
I last mentioned it in September of 2019, albeit incidentally to another discussion. That tells you how long this idea has been an open secret.
Well, history is repeating itself, as the EPCOT hotel project has turned into a hot discussion topic once again.
The prevailing belief involves a new resort behind The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion or possibly between it and The Land pavilion.
Some speculation has also centered on a property near the monorail station. However, that would require some parking lot changes that Disney doesn’t want.
So, the space near The Seas with Nemo & Friends makes the most sense. While this hotel wouldn’t reside inside the park, it’s close enough.
Slotting a property here would parallel it to Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Disney’s BoardWalk Inn at the back of EPCOT.
Of course, from Disney’s perspective, the more appealing idea is something akin to Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta.
Many people believe that place claims the title of finest theme park restaurant in the world.
Obviously, having something similar at EPCOT could allow Disney to reclaim the title of nicest resort on the campus.
Many feel that the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort has surpassed the official Disney hotels.
Also, Disney could connect the new resort to EPCOT in a way that allows unique entry a la Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
Why would Disney do this when it’s making cuts elsewhere? Hotels pay for themselves. The explanation really is that simple.
The Importance of Walt Disney World Shows
Finally, I want to talk about something that’s not a rumor but ties into other upcoming park updates.
Disney has confirmed that A Celebration of Festival of The Lion King will reopen in mid-May.
You can tell from the title that it won’t be the festival that you remember. Disney modifies names to reflect pandemic changes.
However, the return of the tumbling exhibition qualifies as significant for different reasons.
The show’s comeback likely hints at an upcoming capacity increase at the parks.
One of the most unheralded aspects of Disney shows is their throughput value. For example, The Lion King show hosts 2,900 guests per hour.
The attractions that Disney hosts in large theaters siphon plenty of traffic off the main paths.
With capacity limits in place, park officials couldn’t justify staffing these shows. We’re starting to notice the tide turning, though.
With so many people fully vaccinated, the tourism industry expects borderline historic numbers during the second half of 2021.
So, the return of this festival hints at a more fantastic rumor. Disney is nearly ready to reopen its parks at higher capacity levels.
Everything else under discussion here is theoretical, but this one’s tangible. Walt Disney World is prepping to go back to normal.
That’s the rumor we all want confirmed right now!