-As reported by Theme Park Tourist
By Amanda Kondolojy, Monday, September 26, 2016 05:52
Though we’ve known for some time that budget cuts were coming to Walt Disney World, new information has trickled out of the resort in recent days that shows one, very strange fact: almost all of the current cuts happening in the near future (at least that we know about) are going to be happening at the Magic Kingdom. Even though this park is even opening a new attractionon October 2, 2016, this date will also represent the end of operations for a number of in-park entertainers and characters, including some fan favorites.
Though it is curious that Disney would make cuts at the park that has been more or less stable through the tumultuous summer of 2016, here are all of the cuts that we know about (so far) that will be taking effect at the Magic Kingdom in the next few days.
1. The Notorious Banjo Brothers (And Bob) – Frontierland
Though you probably already know the Notorious Banjo Brothers (and Bob) as the resident country and western band of the Magic Kingdom (playing good ‘ol country hits as well as recent Disney favorites with twangy flair), it looks like this entertainment act, which has been playing in various spots around Frontierland for nearly a decade (the earliest we remember them being around is in 2007) is unfortunately heading for permanent retirement from this park.
According to Disney’s official park calendar, the final day for this Magic Kingdom mainstay will be October 1, 2016, and like all of these other cuts, no replacement is planned for this entertaining trio. In fact, two characters who call Frontierland home at the Magic Kingdom will also unfortunately be getting the axe at the exact same time..
2. Woody and Jessie – Frontierland
Effective October 2, 2016, Toy Story characters Woody and Jessie will no longer be meeting guests at the Magic Kingdom in Frontierland next to Splash Mountain. And while Woody meets guests currently at Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Pixar Place, the Magic Kingdom has historically been the only place in all of Walt Disney World where Jessie can be met regularly, which means guests who want to see this character one last time will need to do so in the very near future, as after this date Jessie will only appear as part of other entertainment around the resort, and will not be available for pictures or autographs.
3. Rafiki – Adventureland
Aside from the loss of these two characters in Frontierland, it looks like Rafiki (who has been meeting guests in Adventureland for the past few months next to the Skipper Canteen) will also be leaving the Magic Kingdom in the near future as well. Though no firm date has been given for this character’s departure, considering all the other cuts, the first week in October seems likely to be this character’s last. However, the good news here is that, like Woody, Rafiki can still be found very easily at Walt Disney World. Guests who want to meet this character will be able to find him daily in the Rafiki’s Planet Watch area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
4. Scoop Sanderson – Main Street USA
It has been confirmed that long-time Citizen of Main Street USA character Scoop Sanderson will no longer be regularly appearing at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and his last day in the park will be just a few days after the final day for the aforementioned characters on October 8. This development is especially sad as Scoop has appeared on Main Street for many years, and is truly an icon for pin traders (he even has a number of official Disney pins that feature his likeness!), making this an especially depressing casualty of all of the budget cuts happening at the Magic Kingdom. Though there is a petition online trying to keep Scoop in the park, it doesn’t seem likely that Disney will change their minds on this particular cut, even if fans have been very vocal in their dislike for this specific development.
5. Stitch’s Great Escape’s seasonal operation – Tomorrowland
Though we know that Stitch’s Great Escape will be closing forever soon to make way for a new attraction based on Wreck-It Ralph, many fans wondered why Disney is even bothering to move this attraction to seasonal operation instead of just closing it outright immediately. Unfortunately, the answer here yet again is budget cuts, as Disney can save money by not running this unpopular attraction for the rest of 2016, without having to actually begin work on the aforementioned Wreck-It Ralph ride, which probably won’t be in the Walt Disney World budget until next year.
While anti-fans of Stitch’s Great Escape (as well as those who just want to see something new at the Magic Kingdom) might be in a rush to see this attraction close, it looks like Disney would rather save some money in the short term by switching Stitch’s Great Escape to seasonal operation and waiting to do any work in this area until 2017.
Though the previously mentioned cuts at the Magic Kingdom are being made for budgetary reasons, there are also a number of other closings happening soon at the park for different reasons as well that fans should be aware of, including the final run of the Main Street Electrical Parade at the Magic Kingdom on October 9th (it will be heading to Disneyland early next year before being retired forever), and the end of the temporary Elena of Avalor pre-show, which, after being extended for several weeks, will finally be retired at the end of the month to reportedly make way for a different castle forecourt pre-show featuring a new character (rumored to be Moana).
How do you feel about all of these closures and cuts coming to the Magic Kingdom this fall? Will you miss any of these characters, or are you ambivalent about these changes at this park? Let us know your thoughts on all these changes at this park in the comments below!
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