Like many people, we were pretty happy to say goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021. It’s a brand new year!
And it seems Disney was eagerly anticipating the New Year, too, because the company has made a TON of announcements in the first month of 2021 — like, enough to last us all year! And it’s only JANUARY! And we’re still just getting used to Park Hopping being back at Disney World again!
So what has Disney already announced this month? Let’s go through everything we’ve recently reported on.
Confirmed Projects for 2021
The global health crisis put a wrench in some of Disney’s construction plans, with some projects getting delayed. But earlier this month, a D23 post confirmed that the following were still in the works for 2021:
- Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort
- Snow White’s Enchanted Wish at Disneyland
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT
- Harmonious at EPCOT
- Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel at Disneyland Paris
- A new Cars-based attraction at Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris
Of course, the attractions located in Disneyland Resort all depend on when those parks can open. That list leaves out four other ongoing projects, which could possibly be delayed until 2021. This includes TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT, the Space 220 restaurant at EPCOT, and Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. The Star Wars Hotel website currently says opening in 2021, so hopefully that remains true!
Disneyland’s Annual Pass Program Discontinued
Just recently, Disney announced it would discontinue the Disneyland Resort’s Annual Pass Program. Disney is working on a new Membership Program for Disneyland that will consider frequency of pass use, price, and spontaneity of park trips.
Disney will survey passholders about what they will want from the membership. Disneyland Resort remains closed, except for Downtown Disney and part of Buena Vista Street in California Adventure, which are operating with stores at limited capacity and restaurants limited to take-out dining only.
Disney World Discontinuing Magical Express
Disney announced that as of January 1st, 2022, Disney World will be discontinuing the Magical Express airport transportation service. This is the free shuttle service that acts as transportation between Disney World Resorts and Orlando International Airport.
This announcement comes after Magical Express stopped offering luggage delivery for guests after Disney World reopened. There is a new Brightline train in the works that will connect the Orlando International Airport to Disney Springs. That project is expected to be completed in 2022.
Early Theme Park Entry at Disney World
Disney has not brought back Extra Magic Hours since reopening but previously announced that Disney resort guests will soon have access to Early Theme Park Entry. As part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations, Disney will allow guests staying at Disney-owned resorts (and other select resorts) to gain entry into the theme parks 30 minutes before everyone else.
Where Extra Magic Hours allowed guests one-hour early access to specific parks on specific days, this new Early Theme Park Entry program will allow guests to enter any park they choose on any day they choose 30 minutes early.
New Storyline for The Jungle Cruise
Disney has announced that the beloved Jungle Cruise will be getting a new storyline! Disney will be “building on the story” that Disney-goers know and love at both Disney World and Disneyland.
Some of the changes, as announced by Disney Parks Blog and an exclusive D23 interview with Imagineer Chris Beatty, include the”first continuous story, fantastic updated scenes, colorful new characters, and more.” The Jungle Cruise will also soon include “new adventures that stay true to the experience we know and love – more humor, wildlife and skipper heart – and also reflect and value the diversity of the world around us.” Sounds pretty exciting!
Disney has released some concept art showcasing what is coming to the attraction. There are no specific dates yet for when this change will happen, but Imagineer Chris Beatty said the team is working hard to try to get everything in this year. Also, this update will not involve the new Jungle Cruise film set to open later this year.
Festival of the Lion King Returning
After Disney World reopened, much of the parks’ entertainment did not return, and many entertainment Cast Members were laid off. But we have started to see entertainment returning to the parks like the Frozen Sing-A-Long reopening in October 2020 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This month, Disney announced the return of Animal Kingdom’s Festival of the Lion King this summer!
Disney will make the appropriate “adjustments to the show on stage and backstage, including updates to choreography to allow for appropriate physical distancing.” Guest seating will also be adjusted to account for social distancing.
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Experience Closing
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is a fun card game at Magic Kingdom that allows guests to interact with certain elements around the park. And Disney announced that it was closing the experience this month.
We later learned that the experience was set to close on January 24th, and as a result, we saw a lot of people playing the game in the parks over that weekend.
Whew! That is a LOT. And we’re just getting started in 2021, so it’s going to be interesting to see what other big announcements Disney makes at the beginning of the year! And as always, we’ll keep you updated!
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Which big Disney announcement surprised you the most this month? Let us know in the comments!