What happens next? for Disney's planned construction projects at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Now that we're two months into this closure, we are getting a clearer picture of which projects will — and will not — proceed as planned.When Covid-19 shut down the nation's theme parks in March, we asked
In Disney's latest earnings call, new CEO Bob Chapek said that Disney would "take a slightly finer-tooth comb, if you will, through those expenditures." That process is on-going, but we are hearing from multiple sources in Burbank, Glendale and Orlando what Disney's priorities will be for the Walt Disney World Resort going forward from now.
Top of the list is the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, which Disney wants to begin accepting guests next year. Disney World's Star Wars hotel was designed as top-dollar attraction, and its high yield on a low customer base makes it especially attractive to Disney now. Construction was well along before Disney stopped all work in March, but the company wants to get this project going again ASAP, as it looks for a lucrative new revenue stream in a time when no one's optimistic about attendance.
Galactic Starcruiser never was intended to serve a large number of guests, so Disney doesn't care if thousands of people who never were going to get into the hotel anyway no longer feel that they can afford this premium, interactive experience. If Disney can just fill its 68 rooms for each two-night adventure, then this project will add much-needed cash to Disney World's bottom line.
Beyond that, the next priority is to fix the current construction mess in Epcot's Future World. The park's entrance and central plaza might not end up looking as grand as the concept art Disney's been showing off inside the former Odyssey restaurant, but Disney can't leave half-torn-down buildings and a maze of construction walls up indefinitely while it waits for the global economy to recover. Imagineers will be working on a redesign of the World Celebration plans with an eye to reducing construction and maintenance costs while getting the project done as quickly as possible. The Dreamers Point/Festival Center structure appears to be gone in these emerging plans.
Elsewhere in Epcot, don't expect Remy's Ratatouille Adventure and the rest of the France pavilion expansion to open until early in 2021, as Disney looks to ride out 2020 with no new attractions, since it must limit park capacities anyway.
The next tier on Disney World's priority list includes its two new roller coasters: Epcot's Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind and the Magic Kingdom's TRON Lightcycle Run. Both of those rides now appear slated for 2022 (with TRON earlier in the year and Guardians later), as Disney slows or delays construction projects beyond its top priorities.
The Harmonius show on Epcot's World Showcase lagoon and the Cirque du Soleil Drawn to Life show at Disney Springs are in limbo for now while Disney awaits guidance on mass gatherings... as well as the financial future of Cirque du Soleil, as the Canadian entertainment giant looks to avoid becoming the latest victim of a private equity leveraged acquisition. The longer these productions remain in limbo, the less likely they are to survive in their originally planned forms.
Other projects, including the Spaceship Earth revamp and the Play Pavilion, now lie at the bottom of Disney's priority list, with their futures dependent upon attendance and guest spending levels over the next 12 to 24 months.
As for hotels, you can forget about the Reflections Resort hotel project on the old River County site, as it's been shelved. Disney is sweating being able to fill its existing room inventory for the next few years. It's going to be a long time before Disney sees a solid business case for expanding that inventory... beyond its Star Wars boutique resort, of course.Tweet
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