When Is The Right Time for WDW to Open New Rides Again?

Edited: August 10, 2020, 10:32 PM

There are rumors starting to circulate about EPCOT opening the new Ratatouille attraction opening as early as this October. However, is this really the right time to open a new attraction. This is the main topic I would like to discuss with everyone here.

I know we are tired of hearing about it, but Covid-19 has done its damage to the theme park world. All companies have reported substantial loses across the board within the theme park sectors of their industries. Needless to say, a new attraction could help bring in more crowds and help slow the bleeding. I would say that is a great idea for a company that just does theme parks/amusement parks. However, we are talking about the Walt Disney Company here.

Today, I finally got around to listening to the Q3 financial earnings call for the Walt Disney Company. After listening, one thing seems to be on the minds of the top managers of Disney and that's Disney Plus. This seems to be the main device that will hold Disney for now until the world approaches some sort of "normal" again. One can easily depict that the release of Mulan on Disney Plus is something that will be closely watched by Disney executive. If successful, Disney might have something that can easily give them a platform to take them easily to next year. Yes, there's a lot of movie theater contracts and what not to think about. Let's be honest though, besides concerts and sporting events, movie theaters might be the last thing people go back to.

With having that platform to jump off of for a while, Disney parks then can have a more organic growth back into the theme park industry. Now, it might be years before the Disney company sees attendance numbers grow back to the level they once were, but we might see a natural comeback starting next spring. Based on the hours that were just posted for WDW, they plan to have a slow Fall. The Disney company already has a great excuse to have a slower theme park crowd this Fall. They cancelled their Fall events all together, knowing there is still a pandemic we are fighting currently. So why not just open new attraction next year, while admitting that this year is a wash no matter what already?

With parks having a really bad year, there is simply no new capital at the moment, until the crowds return. Admitting that next spring will probably be the best time to opena new attraction might be wise. The main reason is obvious, that's probably when crowds will start returning. Besides the Christmas rush, there really is not a great time to launch a new attraction until next spring break really. You only get one chance to launch a new attractions promotional package. Why not do it when things, hopefully, are starting to return. A celebration launching point of Covid-19 finally coming to a conclusion. Yes, there's a chance that we will be fighting this thing next Spring, but there's a better chance we won't next spring than this Fall.

Speaking of celebrations, lets talk about a big celebration next year that's probably lost a lot of it's funding. I am sure by this point, Disney has cut a lot of the funding to WDW's 50 anniversary. Right now, they really should be looking at spreading out the opening of its new attractions as much as possible and opening them at the most opportunistic times. Next year is a great of time as ever to open up what you already have built or near built.

From what it looks like, it looks like EPCOT's new night time show, Harmonious, is continuing its construction. This is a show I can't wait to see. It's also a show that a lot of folks are saying needs to open right away. Now lets hold off here a bit. Again, is this the right time? You already have a show that's cheaper, and taps into the locals retro heart strings. I think anyone would be more than happy just to see any sort of night time show. This would bring back a sense of "normal" once again. Again, who knows what got cut from the 50th anniversary. Yes, build it, but probably wait until at least next summer to premier it.

Let's all admit it, we are all pretty much done with 2020. It's been a heck of a year. Disney parks probably needs to admit the same thing. Worry about the small things like getting the night time shows open again, all the resorts open, and prey that Florida doesn't see a rise in Covid-19 cases like it just went through. Spreading out the openings will be wise because we know that not much new stuff will be built for a while. So spreading out the new rides over the next two years might be wisest for WDW. Let's be happy that we have a pretty much new Disney Hollywood Studios that just relaunched this year. Mickey and Minnie never really had it's promotional period fully realized. Patience might be the best thing at this point. Anticipation can be WDW best friend to help it through this rough economic period. At least until more capital can be spent again.

Right now I am thinking the best time to open everything should be as follows:

Ratatouille: Soft open early May with a grand opening by Memorial Day Weekend

Harmonious: Weekend of July 4th, 2021

Tron: October 1st, 2021. WDW's 50th Anniversary

Guardian: October 1st, 2022 EPCOT's 40th Anniversary
What atmospheric things that are still planned for the redo of EPCOT should also open on this date. (more on this on a later date).

This gives time for the Covid-19 situations to relax, and gives everything a proper grand opening. This would be a nice official relaunch of vacationing again. This is all capital that the Disney company already has tied up as well. It would be hard to cancel any of it at this point except for the Future World redo (again, more on that in another discussion later).

What's your thoughts on opening more attractions within the next six months? Do you think it's wise for Disney at this point to open new rides, or do you think waiting for more opportune times beyond six months would be more appropriate? While in the meantime, Disney plays around more with that they can do with Disney Plus and wait for Covid-19 to die down more before they open up new attractions and refocus more on the parks again.

Replies (7)

August 10, 2020, 5:22 PM

Your timeline sound about right to me. Maybe Ratatouille slides in by spring break if there's an early vaccine and travel is recovering by then. But Memorial Day is a more conservative pick.

August 10, 2020, 6:09 PM

Argh, I don't want to wait for Guardians that long! Unfortunately, I agree with Robert - the timeline will most likely be accurate.

August 10, 2020, 8:16 PM

What sounds like an accurate date for Avengers Campus, at Disneyland?

August 10, 2020, 8:37 PM

@timbo23 I’m guessing same as Ratatouille

August 11, 2020, 12:24 AM

I'm extremely skeptical of any information pointing toward Disney opening Ratatouille this fall. If attendance is so low that they're cutting back to eight hour operating days, I'm not sure that opening new attractions makes a ton of sense. It might help a park that relies primarily on locals such as Busch Gardens Tampa with Iron Gwazi, but when a majority of your visitors come from out of area and won't travel to Florida period given everything that's going on, you're better off saving the opening for when the climate is more travel friendly. Besides, for all intents and purposes, Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway is brand new, so they can ride on that for the rest of 2020 and start looking into more openings next spring.

My predicted timeline is a close to yours, but I think Ratatouille will likely open earlier in the spring next year to correspond with the Flower and Garden Festival and Guardians will probably be spring or early summer 2022 (I just can't see it being delayed a full year and a half). As for the 50th and other projects, I expect the celebration to be done as economically as possible and anything that hasn't started vertical construction to be deferred until at least 2023 before serious work starts. If D23 is able to happen next year, that will probably give a very good idea of which previously announced projects are still on the table.

Timbo, as to your question, I'm thinking April on Avengers Campus at this point. Disneyland isn't planning to resume construction until the parks reopen, and right now some quiet whispers are suggesting November is the new target for that.

August 24, 2020, 12:00 PM

I think Ratatouille will open in the Fall. New ride or not, I don't think its worth holding back the inevitable.

I mean Rise of the Resistance and Runaway Railway are still "new" and they have been able to control capacity safely. If DHS can handle two new rides, I think giant EPCOT can do one.

August 24, 2020, 11:48 PM

Anthony, I don't see Ratatouille opening this year. I think Disney is just prepared to write off 2020 as a loss for the parks. Pushing it to next year when (god-willing) we have a better handle on this thing will give people more of an incentive to visit.


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