-Reported by Theme Park Tourist
By Amanda Kondolojy, Wednesday, September 14, 2016 06:47
If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World this fall, there will be plenty of new things to do around the resort. All of the attractions that debuted this past summer will still be there to check out, a new Muppets-themed show will premiere at the Magic Kingdom, and if rumors are correct, you just might be able to see thelong-awaited opening of the Rivers of Light nighttime spectacular at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
However, even though there are plenty of interesting things to see and do this fall, there are some troubling developments happening right now at Walt Disney World that seem to indicate budget cuts are happening behind the scenes this fall.
1. The holidays are being upgraded at Disneyland, but downsized at Walt Disney World
Earlier this week, Disneyland Resort confirmed some big plans for the 2016 holiday season. Disney California Adventure will be introducing a new, seasonal version of World of Color known as Season of Light, and is also kicking off a new winter event known as the Festival of Holidays which will bring multicultural activities and entertainment as well as 14 themed festival marketplaces to the park. And over at Disneyland park, the park will be bringing back the popular Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle overlay as well as the Believe…in Holiday Magic fireworks show. With such an amazing lineup of new and returning holiday events, this winter looks like it will be a great time to visit Disneyland Resort. But what about Walt Disney World?
While you may think something equally as impressive might be announced for Orlando, thus far the only new addition for 2016’s holiday season at Walt Disney World has been a new stage show for the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party upcharge event, which you can read more about here. Aside from that Epcot will still have its Holidays Around the World event (which includes the Candlelight Processional), and Disney’s Hollywood Studios as well as Disney’s Animal Kingdom will decorate for the season.
Unfortunately, this anemic lineup is not only underwhelming, but it also leaves Walt Disney World at a net loss for the holiday season when compared to the past few years, as the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights was officially retired in 2015, which leaves Disney’s Hollywood Studios with no special Christmastime entertainment whatsoever. While some were hoping that Epcot might bring back its seasonal Lights of Winter attraction (which was retired in 2009), no announcement has been made regarding this and with less than two months to go before the holiday season kicks off at the resort in November, if something like this were to be announced, we’d imagine it would have already happened by now.
While the holidays at Walt Disney World (and the Magic Kingdom in particular) are always special, East Coast Disney fans would be forgiven for being a little jealous of all the holiday offerings being introduced at the Disneyland Resort this year, and it seems baffling that the most-attended theme parks in the world aren’t doing something a little extra for the holiday season in 2016, especially as attendance has not been great this year, and doesn’t show any immediate signs of improving.
2. Closures with no replacement are on the rise
While it was tough to see all the closures that happened earlier this year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the promise of a future with Star Wars Land (and to a lesser extent Toy Story Land) helped make these closures tolerable for fans of this park. However, only a few months after the biggest mass closure in Walt Disney World history, the resort is again losing half a dozen attractions, but this time there are almost no plans for replacement for any of them
Chief among these closures of course is the Main Street Electrical Parade, which is leaving the Magic Kingdom for good in just a few days, with no replacement of any kind announced. However, while this is the most noticeable example of an upcoming closure, there’s another, more covert closure that happened earlier this week. At the end of the day on September 13, 2016, Epcot quietly closed Innoventions attractions StormStruck and The Sum of All Thrills with no official announcement whatsoever.
Though we have known about these upcoming closures for some time, it was strange that Disney did not acknowledge them in any way, and most guests who were waiting in line for these attractions earlier this week did not know that these Innoventions exhibits were about to go extinct. And even though Colortopia is now the last exhibit standing in the area, Disney has remained mum on what could be happening with the larger Innoventions East, now that it has been all but abandoned.
While some have hoped that Disney may try and find new sponsors for exhibits in this space, the prevailing theory right now is that Disney will convert this area into more character meet and greet space, which would be a disappointing development indeed. However, an even worse option exists: total abandonment. Disney’s no stranger to just letting closed attractions (and entire parks) rot in place, and while the center of Future World would be a really unfortunate spot to have an abandoned attraction, if budget cuts are indeed behind the lack of replacement for these attractions (sponsorship losses are what closed them in the first place), then we could be headed for a future that includes even more empty buildings at Epcot.
It is no secret that 2016 has been a rough year thus far for Walt Disney World, and with these new developments, it’s hard to imagine things are going to get much better any time in the near future. While projects like Rivers of Light as well as the Magic Kingdom’s new Muppets show are certainly exciting (and we really hope the rumor mill is right about the former debuting next month), when set against the backdrop of budget cuts that include closures, and downsizing of special events, it’s hard not to feel a little wary about the immediate future of Walt Disney World.
How do you feel about these recent developments at the resort? Do you think these changes are a result of budget cuts, or is something else at work here?
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