It’s no surprise that attendance has been very low at Walt Disney World. Now, there’s a major plan to change that in 2021.
Back in July (I know, it seems like years ago given how much changes in 2020), many people were concerned about Walt Disney World reopening during the pandemic. Florida was in the midst of a second wave of infections, and the fear was that massive crowds at the parks could result in super spreading of the virus. Well, not only did Disney put in place attendance caps that were far lower than many expected, but it turns out Disney struggled to even hit those levels. The demand simply wasn’t there; neither was the super spreading.
Now into September and without any major events forthcoming in 2020, Disney is in a wait-and-see approach as to when they can begin lifting those attendance caps. Most importantly, they need conditions in the world to reach a level that will permit tourists wanting to return (with money to spend). Considering vaccines are now almost assuredly arriving in late 2020, it seems that 2021 is Disney World’s comeback year. With the Asian parks in a precipitous position due to a potentially burgeoning cold war between China and the United States, and with Disneyland in California unlikely to generate revenue similar to its 2019 levels any time soon, Disney is ready to lean HARD into Disney World as a source of steady revenue.
The world of 2021 is likely to look much different than it did prior to the pandemic. Movie theaters across the globe may be in a state of transition with many having gone under in 2020. New theaters may open, or they may not. The shift to watching new movies in the home may be permanent, or entertainment companies may stay with the classic system. The roster of movies coming out for the next two years will be sparse due to the shut down of much of the filming industry in 2020. And given all these entertainment uncertainties for the Disney Company, it’s time for Walt Disney World to be placed on a pedestal as a way to get the company moving again.
For these reasons, Disney is preparing a massive 2021 Disney 50th Anniversary campaign to get guests back in the parks. As reported previously, Disney appears to be putting together a new nighttime parade at the Magic Kingdom, which will be made of older parades cobbled together. Even when money is tight, they need something to move the turnstiles. But that’s just the beginning. Disney is also racing to get Tron up and running by the summer of 2021. And, according to some sources, Disney is not in any rush whatsoever to change Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom in Florida. They want – and NEED – the ride open in 2021. They need it so much so that they just recently repaired the jumping Bre’r Rabbit animatronic which is historically such a pain for Disney Ops.
In Epcot, Disney is scrapping the old concepts they had for the park and going for a scaled-down redo. This info comes to us from Martin at the WDWMagic forums. Given the amount of money the park generates in private events, they still need an area to host large groups, but don’t expect to see the grandiose structure they had shown before. Furthermore, Disney is purposefully holding back Ratatouille despite it being essentially ready to open (per Pheneix, also at WDWMagic forums)… just to really drive a marketing campaign for Epcot in 2021. And Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind? Well, with a staggering price tag nearly four times that of Expedition Everest, the gargantuan attraction may or may not make the 2021 time frame. There are a lot of variables for it, in particular.
At Hollywood Studios, Disney is going with the opening of Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge to continue driving interest in the park. Animal Kingdom is the loser in all of this with no big plans for any sorts of major expansion. Still, Pandora will draw visitors, and AK is less dependent on new IP razzle-dazzle.
But be prepared, because winter cometh. Specifically a very, very long winter beginning 2021. Once Walt Disney World launches a hail mary in 2021 to bring tourism back to Central Florida, WDW fans should be aware that it’s going to be a slow many years of little to no major expansions. The Polynesian resort has had a major expansion cancelled, multiple attractions that were planned have been cancelled or indefinitely postponed, infrastructure upgrades at one of the parks has been cancelled… basically, Disney is throwing all of their current year budget at a blow-out in 2021… and then it gets tight.
What are your thoughts on Disney’s all-in 2021 strategy? Do you think Cosmic Rewind will make it in or will it be pushed to 2022? Tell us in the comments.