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What's new at Walt Disney World? Not much, for a change

By Robert Niles
Published: September 25, 2008 at 10:29 AM
Scott Powers at the Orlando Sentinel attended yesterday's PR event at Walt Disney World to promote the resort's upcoming new attractions and filed his report (quoting yours truly, BTW).

So what do Disney fans have to look forward to? Well, we already knew about American Idol at Disney's Hollywood Studios. What else?

How about... a fairy-themed meet and greet?

Uh, or a bowling alley at ESPN's Wide World of Sports?

Or, uh...

(Crickets chirping.)

To be fair, it's not like Disney is doing nothing in 2009. Work proceeds on a multi-billion-dollar theme park expansion... at Disney's California Adventure on the west coast. And Disney's opening up land for hotel and timeshare development in Florida, as well as expanding the Disney Cruise Line. And there's that fifth (premium-priced) theme park coming, too.

But the company's not got any new rides on the drawing boards for the existing four Walt Disney World theme parks. That's a first since Animal Kingdom opened a decade ago.

I mentioned Universal's new attraction for 2009, Hollywood Rip, Ride and Rockit and 2010's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter when I talked with Scott. Not to mention SeaWorld's Manta roller coaster, opening next summer. So it's not Disney's competition is taking a year off, like the Mouse House appears to be.

Will that hurt Disney's attendance in 2009? Or will free birthday tickets keep the turnstiles spinning?

Readers' Opinions

From James Rao on September 25, 2008 at 11:39 AM
Keep in mind...rumors still persist about an extended year-long refurb for WDW's Space Mountain. While it will probably retain the original track layout, it may seem like a brand new attraction once the refurb is complete. And that work can't be cheap!
From Tim W on September 25, 2008 at 12:09 PM
theres also the planned overhaul of fantasyland in 2010. with tons of new rides and attractions. at epcot, rumors of new world showcase pavillions, at mgm the whole pixar place, and animal kingdom will hopefully receive beastly kingdomme. there is some planned but more around 2010.
From Raul Araoz on September 25, 2008 at 12:18 PM
Disney is plainly taking a wait and see attitude towards the economy before announcing any of its' rumored attractions. Most of the already mentioned attractions will probably be delayed to open for the 40th anniversary. However, besides the American Idol show, we will get an all new Hall of Presidents show for 2009. Hello? Anybody?
From Greg Bark on September 25, 2008 at 12:38 PM
Toy Story Mania will still have an effect on DHS attendance. As for Pixar place, it will be built, featuring a Monster's Inc roller coaster themed to the movie's door scene. It's sceduled to open in 2011.
From Anthony Murphy on September 25, 2008 at 12:46 PM
What about American Idol, the new park, or the supposed Crush Coaster at DHS? That sounds all new.

The fairy thing has to do with the movie coming out on Oct 28th

From Raul Araoz on September 25, 2008 at 1:24 PM
The DHS version of Crush's Coaster is dead. The Monsters, Inc. coaster is replacing it. Disney's Jungle Trek is also slated for 2011. The thing is none of these attractions have been announced yet. Disney could easily scrap many of them if they feel the economy is not doing well. The Birthday celebration is the big attraction for 2009. The Space Mountain refurb is supposed to start in January but could take the whole year to finish depending on how much money Disney management wants to invest. Star Tours 2 should also begin to be redesigned by the end of next year. Nevertheless, the big new attractions will be in other parks next year.
From Christopher Combs on September 25, 2008 at 1:47 PM
Well you kind of have to look at it this way and ive noticed it easily.in two years is the 40th birthday of WDW. so disney is kind of taking it chill and probaly coasting for the most part in 09 and early 2010. but once this time is over you know that they are going to make a HUGE deal on the 40th b-day of WDW. so im not surprised at this really.
From Corey Romberg on September 25, 2008 at 2:09 PM
Although its not a completely new ride, dont forget about Star Tours 2, which is supposed to be coming in late 2009...This new version will have a new story themed to the pod race, and most importantly be in 3D, which will be awesome! and a feat Universal wasnt able to accomplish with the Simpsons Ride, even though they tried...Star Tours 2 will be a huge hit...will it compete with Harry Potter like Disney hopes? No. But its better than a fairy meet and greet thats forsure
From Corey Romberg on September 25, 2008 at 2:24 PM
And to answer the question as to whether the lack of new attractions will hurt Disney's attendance....free tickets or not, new attractions or not...Disney always offers the best and most complete package in the theme park industry, and escpecially in the family vacation industry, and Disney World parks will continue own the top 4 spots in theme park attendance...most people plan on going to Disney whether or not theyre debuting a new attraction, so the only attendance figures that might sway in Universal's way over the next couple of years is the local demographic who will probably choose Universal over Disney because of Rockit and Harry Potter, but Disney is combating that with the free Bday tickets that do benifit locals
From Anthony Murphy on September 25, 2008 at 4:06 PM
How do we know Crush Coaster is Dead?


Personally, it was an attraction that Disney should copy...fast

From Raul Araoz on September 25, 2008 at 4:50 PM
Disney doesn't want to put any more Finding Nemo attractions in WDW. The original theme for Crush's Coaster was going to be changed to be themed to Ratatouille. However, management felt that the film was not successful enough to merit a ride. The idea for the Monsters. Inc. coaster was proposed and immmediately went to the front of the pack. Crush's coaster was going to take the spot in the soundstage next to Toy Story and now that spot is earmarked for the door coaster. The Honey, I Shrunk the Kids set will be themed to A Bug's Life and the Backlot Tour is supposed to be turned into a WDW version of the Carsland being built in California.
From Corey Romberg on September 25, 2008 at 5:43 PM
Much of the story of Crush's Coaster, and many of the elements, such as the jellyfish, are exactly the same as the Seas with Nemo and Friends, so as soon as that opened in 07 Crushs Coaster was out of the picture, then the Ratatouille rumor came up, but Bob Iger shot that down by saying "not all movies, like Ratatouille, need to be franchises and have theme park attractions" and finally we got word that it would be the Monster Inc door coaster....which is the best idea of all of them...who didnt watch that scene in the movie and think, 'wow that would be a fun coaster'? it was only a matter of time before that became a reality
From Tim W on September 25, 2008 at 6:06 PM
the duplication of cars land to me is dumb. With all the finding nemo stuff everyones been complainging about now there adding a whole land devoted to cars. it doesnt make sense at all. One ride would be feasible enough, but a land a dhs doesn't make sense. Ive heard the three rides planned for DCA are coming here too along with the changing of lights mototrs action to fit in with cars. so 4 cars attractions in 1 park that focusses on movies hmm doesnt sound right at all.
From Corey Romberg on September 25, 2008 at 6:19 PM
I havent heard anything about LMA changing to a Cars theme...I hope it doesnt, its fine the way it is...Cars Land at DCA will have 3 rides: Radiator Springs Racers, Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, and Luigi's Roaming Tires...but IF it comes to DHS its going to be a smaller version, so it may only have Radiator Springs Racers...I hear they are going to wait to see how it does at DCA before they confirm it for DHS, which means it wouldnt even be announced until 2012, when it opens at DCA, so we are a long ways away from it coming to DHS
From James Rao on September 25, 2008 at 7:02 PM
One more rumor: the new ride system for the Radiator Springs E-Ticket will be tested at TEST TRACK before being utilized at DCA...

Keep in mind though, Universal has been resting on its laurels (and Hardys) for a few years. It is about time they add something new to IOA and USF. I just hope they refurb some of their excellent "older" attractions as well, because several of them are in need of "fresh paint."

And remember, the last time Universal and SeaWorld started a coaster war, Disney came back with Rock n Roller Coaster and Everest.

Competition is AWESOME!!!!

From Corey Romberg on September 25, 2008 at 7:11 PM
Thats not a rumor, its a fact. They already started testing the new ride system for Radiator Springs Racers on Test Track, after hours of course
From Deidre Dennis on September 26, 2008 at 9:33 AM
It's not going to keep me from going. Not really concerned if WDW will have new attractions or not. There's so much to do down there, even outside of Disney, that we're going to enjoy ourselves anyway. After looking at other places to go for our 2009 trip, we decided to head back to WDW for our next upcoming trip. Our son has turned into a theme park nut and wasn't interested in a road trip. We would have liked to wait until 2010 when the Potter attraction is (hopefully) opening, but we did not want to hold out on our plans for a single attraction. Besides, when 2010 comes he may not even be interested in Mr. Potter anymore...
From Joshua Counsil on September 29, 2008 at 12:26 PM
It's a damn far drive from Ottawa (Ontario), so it's definitely not all that enticing to visit WDW in 2009. Uni, on the other hand, would be worth a visit. And if that is worth a trip, then WDW would obviously be in the mix.

I think Disney will see equal visitors regardless of their inactivity next year. If they sit idle for a few years (like IOA), then it would be an issue.

From TH Creative on September 29, 2008 at 4:22 PM
Mr. Rao writes: Keep in mind though, Universal has been resting on its laurels (and Hardys) for a few years. It is about time they add something new to IOA and USF.

I Respond: With all due respect since 2000: Men In Black: Alien Attack, Disaster, Revenge of the Mummy, Jimmy Neutron, Shrek 3D, Fear Factor and The Simpsons.

That's virtually a new attraction every year.

From Sylvain Comeau on October 1, 2008 at 12:01 AM
It was my understanding that the E-Ticket Little Mermaid dark ride is coming to WDW as well. Or am I out to lunch on that?

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