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Magic Kingdom rumor mill grows as two big projects wrap up


Even though Magic Kingdom wrapped up a major project with New Fantasyland expansion in 2014, the park hasn’t been idle. Along with many small refurbishments designed to stay ahead of weather related wear, the park has a couple of big projects underway and it looks like at least one attraction could be added to the park in the near future.

The big rumor we covered yesterday is that the Disney Board of Directors approved a total package of theme park enhancements for Disney’s Hollywood Studios somewhere north of $3 billion (if you include infrastructure projects). A small portion of that money (rumored to be $300-400 million) is earmarked for the Magic Kingdom.

Currently underway

Plaza / Hub redo – Status: nearing completion. This project actually adds a little capacity to the park during parades and fireworks and clears up congestion around the hub. See our latest update. Also included in this is a backstage area that is now lightly themed and can help route guests from one end of Main Street to the other in times of thick crowds.

Adventureland Restaurant – Status: unannounced, but self-evident due to county permits and visible construction. The new location was originally planned to open late 2015, but may now be on a path toward early 2016. See our latest update.

Pirates of the Caribbean is closed for an extended refurbishment. While there could be some big changes to some of the props and the mechanics of the ride, I don’t expect a new show or even any new scenes.

The big rumor:

A new Frontierland attraction. With new Fantasyland failing to add much in the way of new capacity, the Magic Kingdom desperately needs a big people-eater attraction designed to soak up 2500 or so guests an hour. The current candidate is an E-Ticket attraction in the area currently occupied by Tom Sawyer Island and Fort Langhorn.

In theory this could queue on the island and have the show building in the green area beside Big Thunder Mountain. Some scenarios have the new ride shutting down Tom Sawyer Island completely and building a boardwalk from near the Haunted Mansion to the walkway in front of Big Thunder Mountain. Or in an area between Splash Mountain and the train tracks. (Although that would lead to a lot of congestion in that area.)

The sad part about this scenario is that it would finally eliminate all boats from the river. Something park management has wanted to do for years. The only ship left running is the Liberty Belle. It would either get parked in Frontierland and converted to dining or moved to a resort where it would serve the same purpose.

This seems to be the leading candidate for how Disney will spend the Magic Kingdom portion of the budget. But nothing is officially announced.

Other rumors:

Someone recently asked me about a rumor that Disney plans to relocate “It’s A Small World” to help with the traffic flow through that part of Fantasyland. Either they’d move it back a few feet (perhaps by relocating the queue) or put it somewhere else completely. This isn’t without precedence, Tokyo Disneyland plans to do something similar with it’s IASW attraction. Disney also has moved Dumbo and The Lion King Show. I don’t give this rumor much credence, but it would be interesting and free up some valuable square footage for crowd control.

Also rumored is the moving of Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor to Pixar-land as part of the Disney’s Hollywood Studios Makeover. I think this is just wishful thinking as moving attractions is just really, really rare.

There is also a rumor that the Magic Kingdom will be getting a Star Wars themed attraction in Tomorrowland. This is based on the theory that Bob Iger wants to spread the wealth of Star Wars around to each of the parks rather than ghetto it all at DHS. I personally like this theory, but doubt its veracity.

Or this could all be a distraction for them adding the Hatbox Ghost to the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World. That’s a rumor I believe.

With the 50th anniversary coming in 2021, it’s time to start positioning the Magic Kingdom as the crown jewel of Walt Disney World. Expect a lot more refurbishments, hopefully a new E-Ticket, and some ‘plusses’ to restaurants and attractions designed to make new family vacation memories.

I will be keeping an ear out for any announcements of new attractions coming to the Magic Kingdom at D23 Expo. What would you like them to announced?