As you may very well know, Disney World is temporarily closed. This comes as a crazy time as Disney was gearing up for their BIG 50th anniversary. In celebration of this monumental time in Disney’s history, Disney has announced and begun work on many new attractions, restaurants, and even a hotel. Most of these were set to open BEFORE October 2021. But during this closure, it has been revealed that in-park construction projects are currently at a standstill.
Now, this has many of our readers wondering if Disney World and all of the projects scheduled to open before the 50th will be ready in time. We’re doing our best to put your minds at ease and to give you all of the information that we have, so let’s check out the possible outcomes.
With construction halted in Disney World during this time, project deadlines are sure to be thrown off from their original timeline. In this time of uncertainty, we can expect to see one of three possible outcomes. The first is that Disney is able to complete everything on time, the second is that projects are delayed, and the third is that a few projects are canceled along with those delays.
And ultimately, these three potential outcomes could have a huge impact on your future Disney World vacations, especially if you were looking forward to and planning your trip around a few of these upcoming projects. So, let’s dive into these potential outcomes to see what they could mean in terms of the parks’ future and their big 50th anniversary.
Outcome 1 — Yep, Everything’s Ready
Honestly, this is probably not gonna happen. Construction has been halted for about a month now, and even though Disney often builds in a little cushion for themselves on opening dates (like by saying Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will be opening summer 2020 instead of giving it a hard date), an unprecedented full stop for months means there’s very little chance they’ll be all ready to go on time.
Disney is working on a LOT of projects like the Space 220 Restaurant, TRON Lightcycle Run, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and the major reimagining of Epcot. And that’s just naming a few! With the shift in income that Disney is experiencing right now on top of significant construction delays, it’s likely unrealistic to think that all of the currently green-lit projects will come to fruition on time.
Outcome 2 — Everything Will Get Done, But Not By the 50th
Another outcome that could potentially happen is that everything that Disney has planned to get done WILL get done, just not by the 50th. And we’ve got an interesting example to illustrate this possibility.
A few days ago we noticed something strange on shopDisney. Disney had put information on a poster description that the Moana-inspired Journey of Water attraction was set to open in 2021. Once it was noticed, they quickly removed this information from the site. Why?
If Disney was still planning for this attraction to open in 2021, they likely would have left the information alone. Which leaves us with the question of why would they change it if they were confident it would open on time in 2021?
This is probably what Disney is experiencing overall. Upcoming projects are in turmoil and deadlines are being forced to shift due to the current health situation.
So What Gets The Green Light?
There are a few rides and restaurants where construction is nearly done OR they have construction that is hindering the parks from functioning as normal. These types of projects may be on the front burner to be finished so that the parks can resume normal operation.
For example, the Walt Disney World Railroad is closed because of the TRON Lightcycle Run construction taking place in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom. Epcot’s entrance is also a hot mess and full of construction walls while Disney is taking steps to transform Epcot as a whole. A few of these projects include a new fountain, Epcot’s Future World being broken up into three neighborhoods, and a Spaceship Earth renovation.
In order for the parks to return to normal as quickly as possible, these projects may get the funds and resources to be completed ASAP. Or they could be the first to get yanked from the plan.
On the flip side of that, current projects that don’t have an impact on the parks’ operations or guest experience may be pushed back, like the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel, for example.
But hey — just because construction has started on a project or a project is nearing its projected opening date doesn’t mean that Disney will push to complete it. You may remember Disney’s Legendary Years hotel. This was meant to be the sister hotel to Disney’s Pop Century Resort. The hotel project was pretty far along a few years back, but when tourism experienced a major decline after 9/11, the project sat abandoned for many years.
Disney later went back to the project and reimagined it into Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.
Taking Hidden Factors Into Consideration
A project’s importance to Disney’s bottom line may not be as obvious as you’d think. Projects that end up opening before others could be based on factors hidden to park guests.
For example, Project A could be nearly completed, but require expensive resources to finish; while Project B could promise significant revenue generation during 2021 when the parks are celebrating the 50th Anniversary. In this case, Project B might get the resources over Project A.
There are other factors at play that could move projects up or down in the priority list.
How about involved risk? For example, Disney’s already built Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and TRON Lightcycle Run, since these attractions exist in other Disney Parks. They have paid for, created, built, tested, and had riders on these attractions for years now. They have already had the opportunity to work out all of the kinks, so they pretty much just have to recreate the blueprints in a different park! But Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind coming to Epcot, on the flip side, carries a bigger risk and more room for pricey errors since this is Disney’s first time building it.
Outcome 3 — Projects Could Be Scrapped
Unfortunately, there is potential that Disney could scrap projects altogether. We have seen this done even when the parks aren’t experiencing a major financial crisis. You may remember the new Main Street Theatre that Disney announced in 2017. This project was quietly scrapped with no explanation in 2018.
There are a few reasons a project could potentially get shelved. Let’s take a closer look.
Construction That Hasn’t Begun
The most likely projects to go are those that didn’t have any work started along with those that wouldn’t be a major revenue loss if scrapped. One example of this could be the announced Mary Poppins attraction. As far as we know, Disney hasn’t started or is in the very preliminary stages of construction for this project (which is possible, but it’s just not yet visible). Disney has also shared very few details on this project! This attraction comes to mind as one that could be easy to cut, though we, of course, don’t know this for sure!
We could also see Disney cut projects that more are expensive to create. We are in a downturn in the economy right now, and Disney is experiencing a financial hit because of it. The parks are closed, film releases are being delayed, ESPN is experiencing a downtime since games aren’t being played, etc. So, Disney may be looking to save wherever they can.
In 2001, Disney abandoned pricier projects like the Legendary Years Hotel. They also shuttered Disney’s World’s first waterpark, Disney’s River Country, which was supposed to just be closed for winter refurbishments, then never reopened. Will we see a similar fate for current projects on the docket?
It’s also important to note that during previous recessions, Disney still opened new experiences. So, there is still hope, people! Disney pushed through the 2008 recession and opened new attractions like the American Idol Experience; and they even completed the massive expansion of New Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom.
So, as you can see, your 2021 Disney World vacation could look a little different than you originally anticipated. Upcoming projects could be modified, delayed, or even canceled. And the 50th Anniversary celebration may not give guests everything they were promised over the last few years. You may have to shift your expectations a bit — and maybe even your planning — depending on what decisions execs make.
Disney has yet to release information about delays or changes to their upcoming projects. If Disney announces changes to upcoming opening dates (like they did for Avengers Campus in Disneyland recently), we will be sure to let you know!
Which project are you looking forward to most? Let us know in the comments below!