Walt Disney World’s 40th: What can we expect?

4 09 2009

Lots of questions have been asked about what Disney will do to celebrate the 40th birthday of the worlds most popular tourist destination. A few years ago people were predicting big changes, from Animal Kingdom expansions to new E-Ticket attractions for almost every park, even the idea of a fifth gate was thrown around. Of course, the current economic climate has put a stop to that and the idea of a new park has pretty much been ruled out, due to the time constraints of having a Disney-standard park ready for 2011. So, here’s my view on what we can expect on October 1st two years from now.

Fantasyland 2.0 is almost a given. Plans have been leaked for the expansion of the famous Magic Kingdom land and it looks like it’s something that could easily be ready for the World’s fourth decade in business. What does the proposed Fantasyland expansion consist of? Meet and greets, meet and greets and oh, yeah, more meet and greets. Dumbo will be moved and have two spinners to double capacity and The Little Mermaid will have a new attraction, which will most likely be a clone of the one which is currently being built over at Disneyland in California. No one knows what the exact plans are, but it looks like Disney are continuing with their current marketing strategy aimed at the younger generation of girls. Hopefully we’ll see some more teen/adult orientated stuff being added to other parks or elsewhere in the Magic Kingdom as a part of the 40th anniversary.

EPCOT is a park which has seen a lot of change over recent years. From the addition of Mission: Space in 2003 to the refurb of Spaceship Earth which finished in 2008 Epcot has had considerable attention, much more so than the other parks on Disney property. For this reason, I’m going to stick my neck out and say that we will see little or nothing new at EPCOT to correspond with WDW’s 40th. Yes, we’d all like to see another country on World Showcase, with an E-Ticket attraction but I just simply don’t see it happening, unless this current recession turns into recovery very fast, and by very fast I mean now. I’m not saying nothing will happen, a lick of paint here and there is more than likely, maybe a new counter service, or even a new table service restaurant to go with the great selection that EPCOT already offers. Just don’t hold your breath for any new attractions.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has also seen a lot of attention recently. Toy Story Midway Mania, which opened last year has quickly become one of the most popular attractions at Walt Disney World and people’s love affair with Toy Story isn’t going to end anytime soon, especially with the new movie due out in 2010. Star Tours 2.0 is the biggest rumour being thrown around at the moment. Many are saying Walt Disney Imagineering have been working on an new version of Star Tours, with 3-D effects and multiple video’s, to add to the attractions re-ride ability. This for me would be perfect, Star Tours has long needed an update in order for it to truly keep it’s E-Ticket status. With George Lucas on-board we may see Star Tours glory days return once more. My only other request for the Studios would be for Fantasmic! to be returned to showing every night. It’s a real pain for visitors having Fantasmic! only running on selected nights and it forces guest to plan their trips around days when Fantasmic! is showing. The economy should be back on track by then so let’s see some more Fantasmic!

Now we get to Animal Kingdom. I’m going to admit it now, I don’t like Animal Kingdom. In my opinion the only real wrold-class attraction in the park is Expedition Everest, which is admittedly one of the best coasters on earth, at least as far as the theme goes. Apart from that the park is lacking. Dinosaur has nothing on it’s big brother Indiana Jones over in Disneyland CA and Kali River Rapid pales in comparison to Popeye and Bluto over at Islands of Adventure. Yes, there’s lots of good things for animal and nature lovers but it’s not enough to make this a full day park. For me this park needs some sort of expansion. I’m not saying another super-high cost E-Ticket but a selection of smaller, good quality attractions would make Animal Kingdom worth the admission price. Will we see it before or during 2011? I wouldn’t count on it.

I imagine there will be changes around the property on the whole, there’s obviously a big chance we’ll see some hotel refurbs and maybe some more activites on-site for guests staying at Walt Disney World hotels. There’s no doubt that the anniversary will be marketed heavily and it’s likely lots will be offered to those staying on-site in order to help visitors celebrate 40 years of one of the worlds greatest theme park resorts.

M. Owen

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