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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?

11 thoughts on “Magic Kingdom rumor mill grows as two big projects wrap up”

  1. I would like to see a new attraction in Frontierland. While I am a Disney traditionalist, I would gladly trade the Liberty Belle boat ride and Tom Sawyer island for a new attraction. I’d hate to see them move IASW anywhere else… And I hate that they moved Dumbo too. Hopefully they don’t change too much with Pirates but they could certainly update some of the animatronics.

  2. OH – I hope they leave the riverboat. That’s one of our favorite crowd escapes! It’s especially fun if you can time the ride with Festival of Fantasy!

  3. Any chance they put Fire Mountain back on the drawing board? It was a volcano coaster slated for Adventureland a while back. They even put up a balloon to get a feel for how its height would impact sight lines around the property. Sounded like a great concept, and I’m sure Disney would do a great job with it. (And, most importantly, it’d leave Tom Sawyer’s Island and the riverboat alone. They’re unique and immersive experiences fitting to Frontierland. They shouldn’t get rid of them.)

  4. I idea of moving IASW has come up a bunch of times recently on one of the popular Disney parks message boards, but it was just armchair Imagineering. I don’t believe there is any credible evidence that this is even being considered.

  5. Losing the Riverboat would about finish MK for my husband. He loves that ride, peaceful, rarely crowded, easy for him on a scooter.

  6. I’m a mix of traditionalist and futurist – I get change and understand it’s need, but worry that we put too much emphasis on big rides and pizazz. Tom Sawyer Island and/or the Liberty Belle is the place to go with young kids who need a break. It’s also good for older adults or anyone who needs a break. I’m the only person in my family who likes coasters, stomach drops, etc. so another big ride isn’t appealing to our family.

    Plus, we’re losing some history and old-time Disney classics by continuing to remove these types of attractions.

  7. I would be very upset to see Tom Sawyer Island go away. It’s nice to have a non-ride place to explore in an era where everything is ‘done to us’, Tom Sawyer Island gives kids and adults a place to use imagination. It’s one of my families favorite places to go.

  8. Rafael Gorrochotegui

    I would only accept a new Frontierland Attraction if it is a reimagining of the Western River Expedition.

  9. Would love to see a walkway from HM to Thunder Mountain but not if it meant the disappearance of the Liberty Bell. I still miss 20,000 Leagues. Any improvements they make to lighten overcrowded areas is a thumbs up for me.

  10. Difficult to imagine what they’d be able to do in Tomorrowland that used Star Wars which didn’t eat the Hollywood Park’s lunch…It would have to be some kind of walk-through or otherwise non-ride attraction, surely?

  11. This is wishfull thinking but I think that Star Wars & Marvel should get there own park.
    That is my wish…
    Disney is all about WISHES…

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