Welcome to the June edition of Disney Rumor Round Up! You can check out the May 2020 installment here. So much has changed and happened since the last installment. I hope you all are staying safe and healthy through all of this. Now, let’s dive in! Disclaimer: Any rumors mentioned in this article are not confirmed by Disney, and may not ever happen.
Currently, Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland are open to guests in China with plenty of requirements and guidelines to keep guests safe. Tokyo Disneyland is next, opening July 1st to guests. Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World will reopen soon after that in mid-July. Disneyland, the park that started it all, is the only one to not currently have an opening date as it has not yet received government approval. Aulani in Hawaii also does not currently have an opening date. Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney continue to cancel trips as well.
Back to our normal park by park format, and kicking it off with huge news at Magic Kingdom. Disney recently announced that Splash Mountain would be re-themed to Princess and the Frog. No timeline or start date was given as of yet, but they did say that when Magic Kingdom (and Disneyland) open, the attraction will be open as-is. According to Walt Disney Imagineering President Bob Weis, this project has been in the works for some time. He also mentioned on Instagram that they have had several ideas for re-theming Splash Mountain over the years. Of course, this decision didn’t come lightly for Disney fans, like many other changes in the past. With several high level Imagineers on the project, including Disney Legend Tony Baxter, I have great faith they will create something amazing for us to enjoy.
Other attractions may be looked at in the not too distant future for changes as well. Country Bear Jamboree, Jungle Cruise, and Peter Pan, just to name a few, could see scene changes for more appropriate storylines.
Outside of that, some projects at the Magic Kingdom have resumed as the park prepares for its July 11th opening. The pathway from the Grand Floridian, park entrance, security updates, and the castle painting project have all resumed and are nearing completion. Larger projects like Tron have not resumed, and, according to Bob Weis in a D23 article, they will do so in stages.
Epcot is the forgotten child it seems right now. Maybe it isn’t forgotten, but it’s not getting the love either. Currently, no major projects at Epcot have resumed in large ways. The entrance project, which was inching closer to finishing prior to the shutdown, has yet to be restarted. The walls of Future World remain with no work done since, as well. Bob Weis didn’t mention Epcot in his D23 interview but did say that several projects are being reassessed, the Mary Poppins attraction likely being one of those, along with possible aspects of Future World as well.
Neither park has anything major currently happening. The biggest newsworthy item is the resumption of construction on the new security area and entrance to Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom will open alongside Magic Kingdom on July 11th with what is said to be new entertainment. Characters will ride river boats and entertain guests from a distance. Neither park will be holding their large shows such as Festival of the Lion King or Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.
Disney also confirmed that they would not be using virtual queues or boarding groups when the parks reopen. There was a lot of speculation and rumors that Disney was going to expand this feature. However, due to the decreased crowds and queue usage, they won’t be using the virtual queue system, even for Rise of the Resistance, which made such features famous.
Walt Disney World
So much is happening at the resort overall. Disney Vacation Club resorts have reopened to guests with specific requirements in place. Disney’s next DVC project seems to have halted. Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge has reportedly been canceled. According to several sources, the project has been canceled or at least delayed long term. In recent aerial images, we can see very little construction equipment at the site and what appears to be large areas seeded over with grass. While Disney has not commented, it’s also not unexpected. Disney rarely confirms project cancellations. Disney is also looking at all sorts of ways to save money in the short term due to the closure.
The MLS and NBA are still on as planned to use Walt Disney World as their site to play. MLS begins relatively soon and will use the Swan and Dolphin as their home base. The NBA will use Coronado Springs (Gran Destino Tower), the Grand Floridian and Yacht Club for their players. As teams are eliminated, they will consolidate down to Coronado Springs only. Players in the NBA will be issued MagicBands, have very specific on-site rules, and will even get a health tracking ring to give them data about whether they may have virus symptoms. Guests will certainly not be able to interact with players, but aspects of the Grand Floridian will be open to guests, such as the DVC villas and select dining venues while the players are there. Fencing is already being installed to keep the NBA players and guests separated. Yacht Club and Coronado Springs will remain fully closed to guests. Disney has said they will have plenty of ways to entertain players while they are guests of the resort. There will also be footage taken of this monumental event at Walt Disney World, giving us fans a look inside the making of this.
Disneyland, as I mentioned earlier, no longer has an opening date. Due to government approval coming after July 4th, that doesn’t give Disney enough time to prepare to open. There was also a lot of backlash to delay the opening from cast members and others based on the trends the state of California is seeing with the virus. Disneyland will also get the Splash Mountain re-theme discussed above. And finally, Bob Weis confirmed that construction on Avengers Campus will continue at Disney California Adventure and that construction on Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will continue at Disneyland Park.