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Big Rumors

I’m hearing some very interesting rumors about projects at Walt Disney World. I can’t vouch for their 100% accuracy, but I thought I’d share none-the-less. At least one of these will forever change the way you experience the parks and resorts.

There’s the recently posted Fantasyland expansion for the Magic Kingdom. Further discussion on this previous post. Sources tell me this project will be built pretty much like we see it. Or at least 80% of the project has been approved.

The Magic Kingdom isn’t the only park entering Fantasyland. Disney’s Animal Kingdom will soon be adding its own realm of fantasy. It’s a huge project that will bring over Journey To The Center of the Earth in a format that’s just slightly different than what they have now in Tokyo. It’s not fair to call this ‘Beastly Kingdom’ as that idea is truly dead. But fantasy animals will be involved. This project is just out of the blue-sky phase and awaiting further consideration by those who control the purse strings.

Disney’s Wide World of Sports should complete it’s transition to ESPN Wide World of Sports by May of next year. Well, at least the signage and everything should be changed. The full impact of the shift will occur over time. Look for EWWOS to truly start to become a legitimate part of your WDW Vacation experience.

You have have heard about the family suites coming to Pop Century’s long forgotten Legendary Years. With ESPN WWOS concentrating on bringing in more amateur sports those teams are going to need some place to stay. My source tells me that half the proposed remake of the Legendary years will be ESPN themed. That makes sense to me since its right across the street from WWOS.

Not into sports? Well then how about a visit to the newly expanded and rethemed Downtown Disney Orlando. The old Pleasure Island section has reportedly signed a few new tenants and will under go a theme change to something more family casual and less party oriented. There is also talk of upgrading a few of the theaters in the AMC 24 to include service at your chair and potentially a new IMAX theater.

A few months ago Jim McPhee was removed from his position as Vice President of EPCOT Center. At the time we were told that McPhee was being moved onto a bigger resort wide project, but there was no indication of what that was. Now we’re hearing that the next phase Pal Mickey project is based on RFID technology. This would do away with the doll and just place an RFID tag somewhere on the person (likely the admission media). Now anytime this RFID would come in proximity of a scanner Disney would be able to make some personalized magic happen. Word is that McPhee has been tasked with implementing this project resort wide.

In its most basic form it would be Winnie the Pooh saying your name in the attraction. But the technology allows Disney to do some really amazing things too. Fast Pass? A thing of the past. Via RFID Disney now knows exactly when you entered the queue, how many people are in the queue, and how fast the attraction is loading. Care to register your preferences? Disney can know if enough people who prefer a certain type of entertainment are in an area and dispatch that band to play. This just scratches the surface too.

Privacy activists will no doubt be up in arms, but I’m pretty excited about the possibilities RFID technology brings to Disney’s theme parks.

So with the economy beginning to come out of its doldrums, this might be the moment for Disney to focus on some urban renewal in its own backyard.