My Disney Parks Rumor “Predictions” for 2019 – A Few Thoughts
By this point in my article sharing most of of you have likely noticed that I rarely share rumors that roll out of the Disney parks rumor mill. However, I do tend to comment on a fair amount of the speculation and essentially that’s my plan for today.
Inevitably, Disney changes drastically from year to year so instead of looking back at what has happened over the last year, I want to take a look at what could be next in the coming year with hopeful optimism of what could be just around the corner. With some of the greatest expansion in Disney history on the horizon and the grand debut of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge looming for summer (in California) and fall (for Orlando) of 2019, it will certainly be big year for the Disney parks and resorts once again. It’s almost mind blowing to think that Star Wars Galaxies Edge is so close to a debut! It seems like just a short time ago the official announcement was made. Star Wars is just one of the many changes that have been made official, and certainly others have been announced that I’m sure you’re already aware of if you’re reading this.
However, rather that looking back and waxing poetically about the impressive feats of both engineering and all other facets of the changes, I wanted to look today at what hasn’t been officially announced and what possibly may never become a reality. So many things roll out of the rumor mill of Disney entertainment so I figured why not share a few of my own thoughts today.
First and foremost, I want to reiterate that none of what I’m sharing is official and these are simply my thoughts with no “insider” information. I won’t claim “leaked” news or anything of the sort and I don’t intend to create rumors with this. Instead, these are simply my thoughts on the future of Disney Parks and potentially what we could see or what is already floating around the internet. I hope to share my input on the validity of some claims, but also share a few of my own general thoughts along the way. So, without further rambling, let’s get right into it.
Perhaps the biggest announcements throughout the next year will revolve around Epcot and it’s great reimagining. Of course, we do have many announced changes well under way including the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster, the space themed restaurant, the new Innoventions area, proposed redesigned “hub” area, the new show replacing Illuminations, and many others. At the same time, we still have rumors surfacing of new pavilions in the world showcase, potential new attractions, and even speculation of something happening with the Wonders of Life Pavilion.
A United Kingdom Attraction
Call me skeptical, but when the rumor rolled out that a Mary Poppins themed spinning style attraction like Dumbo rolled out and started to circulate I didn’t believe it in the slightest. Truthfully, I still doubt that it will happen, but from a deeper thought process I can see why it could be a viable rumor. First, it would be a crowd eater. It’s not a big expensive attraction and it’s not an E-ticket debut, but it would be something for guests to do to occupy their time in the park while announcing something new and minimizing costs. The “budget” is the key to all of Epcot and these rumors overall. Disney will be pumping a lot of money into the project over the next few years and I highly doubt they’ll add any big ticket, costly, attractions to the construction lineup until some of the current projects finish up. Walt Disney World may be more expensive that ever to visit, but just like any company they do have budget constraints.
The rumors of new Epcot pavilions in the World Showcase and beyond have been around since the Equatorial Africa Pavilion was scrapped soon after Epcot’s opening day. Today, the latest rumors focus on a Brazil pavilion or an India Pavilion. Both possibilities do have a certain level of merit, but I personally believe neither will even be announced this year. If they are it will almost certainly be at D23. If you asked me about this rumor a year or two ago, I would have guessed that construction would have already been well on its way by this point in 2018. Obviously that didn’t happen but the validity of a new pavilion coming in the future still holds plenty of potential but I do doubt it will begin construction this year.
Again, it all comes back to resource allocation. As a company, you can only take on so many projects at one time.
Tying into the pavilion speculations, let’s talk about Wonders of Life. If you are an old school Disney fan chances are you’re well aware of the virtually abandoned Wonders of Life pavilion. Over the last year, Disney has been slowly yet surely making changes and updates to the pavilion which almost immediately put it firmly into a piece of the Epcot of the future. What its roll in the redesign may be is largely unknown. It could still be used as event space, but it was even featured in the new Epcot concept renderings.
If I had one guess as to what this pavilion may hold in the future, I would assume Disney could bring some type of character IP into this location. My thoughts immediately go to a reboot of Cranium Command (especially with the odd Buzzy rumors that came out of nowhere), but while integrating Inside Out or even quite possibly rebooting the classic experience to appease the nostalgic Disney fans.
In a round about way that brings me to perhaps my greatest piece of personal speculation in this article. If I had one guess for the future of Epcot, it would be that either this year or next year we start to see a nostalgic phase of Epcot. With the interim Illuminations replacement “Epcot Forever” debuting and featuring classic Epcot music, I can’t help but think this will be a collaborative theme of the park as a whole, even if for a very limited time.
As Epcot changes, there will be a lot of push back from nostalgic Disney fans. It’s inevitable when a classic part of the magic changes. I personally think Disney will make a certain effort to ease into a “new Epcot” by harkening back to the days of the early Epcot experience so guests can relive even a small piece of that experience all over again.
In a similar way, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an update announced for the Imagination pavilion this year at some point. The attraction may not change (as much as I wish it would go back to a more original iteration), but I do believe an ImageWorks overhaul is well overdue. It would theoretically be a budget friendly redesign, and if a sponsor for the project was brought onboard, costs may not be a huge factor when compared to the speculation of entirely new attractions/pavilions at Epcot.
Making a long list of rumors a bit more concise, Epcot is going to be changing and the extent of those changes will likely be the biggest series of announcements in the coming year.
Magic Kingdom Changes:
Magic Kingdom may not see anything overly exciting announced for it this year. However, there are a few things in progress that may “change” for lack of a better word.
The Tron Project
As you probably know by now, the Tron coaster is coming to Magic Kingdom by 2021. Construction is well under way but I do believe there may be more to this project that meets the eye. I’ve spectacled for years that changes will be coming to Tomorrowland and this would be the perfect time to do something new and entirely unique. Tomorrowland is well overdue for a table service dinging location and the space is there and accessible for such a thing to come to fruition. Will it be announced this year? Maybe not. Will a Tomorrowland “refresh” begin this year? Without a doubt.
If you walk into Tomorrowland today, you can already start to see theming changes taking place. From new paint to attraction closings (Goodbye Stitch’s Great Escape…), changes are already happening and I do believe this is only the beginning and there may be more to Tron that meets the eye.
A New Nighttime Parade
A new nighttime parade is long overdo at Magic Kingdom. I thought we’d already have some kind of parade announcement for 2019, but I genuinely believe we’ll have a new nighttime parade in Magic Kingdom by the end of 2019. I have absolutely no idea if it will be a new parade or a borrowed parade from another park internationally, but it simply feels strange for the park to be without an ongoing nighttime parade.
I still believe Paint the Night could be modified just enough to function in the Magic Kingdom, but I doubt it will actually happen.
Hollywood Studios Changes
Outside of Star Wars and the Runaway Railway, I would not be surprised if we see some more changes unveiled for Hollywood Studios this year. The theming is all over the place and something is going to have to change and change quickly to control the crowds after Galaxy’s Edge debuts. The sheer nature and design of the park could make near capacity crowd levels brutal if new areas aren’t expanded or better utilized to occupy guests.
Hollywood Studios rumors are surprisingly quiet right now but I don’t see that trend sticking around for very long. Look for something to be announced this year to further that park in more that one way.
Animal Kingdom Changes
As much as I hate to say it, I don’t think we’ll see much announced or new in 2019 for Animal Kingdom. All rumors circulating currently seem too far fetched in my opinion. Pandora is still doing quite well and continues to exceed most guests expectations. The crowds appear higher that in previous years and truthfully this is the best version of Animal Kingdom I’ve experienced first hand. The nighttime entertainment is great and I’m not entirely sure what they could improve to better the park.
DinoLand Re-Imagining (not likely)
There has been a recent push surfacing a rumor of an Indiana Jones overlay to Dinosaur. If you change Dinosaur you basically have to change or re-theme all of DinoLand. Ironically, and what many people don’t know about DinoLand, is that it’s designed to be a down home parody of the Dino Institute housing Dinosaur. So, if you change Dinosaur, you likely have to change all of DinoLand and I doubt that will happen.
Pandora Expansion (not likely)
Another rumor that’s floating around is that Disney plans to expand Pandora. In my opinion this is the most far fetched rumor and, at the very least, far too soon for speculation if a project is evening the minds of the folks at Disney making those calls. I could be completely wrong but I doubt this will happen at all or at least anytime soon.
Disney resorts are certainly an area where Disney is allocating major resources in order to prepare for both Star Wars and other expansions coming in the future. Crowds are higher that they’ve ever been from a guest perspective and keeping those guests on property will inevitably be a focus of Disney’s intentions in the coming years. At the same time, with the exception of resorts that have already been announced or that are nearing completion, I doubt we’ll see any more lodging expansions rolled out this year. Disney has added a ton of rooms this year and are working to add more so my best guess is that they’ll be putting future resorts on hold until they really see how Star Wars draws crowds and how the accommodations situation unfolds over time.
New DVC Villas
The one exception to my “no-new resorts” mindset is the fact that I do believe Disney will continue to add DVC accommodations to moderate tier resorts and even potentially Port Orleans in particular in the not so distant future. Is it likely to happen this year, probably not with the expansions in place for Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs already nearing completion, but I do believe updates are inevitable for Port Orleans at some point.
Another fitting DVC expansion in my opinion would be waterfront cabins at Fort Wilderness. Not only does it fit the theming but after seeing how well they were done at Wilderness Lodge I could see it being a huge hit with guests.
So that about wraps it up. I’m sure I’ve missed something along the way, but that should cover just about everything I expect in 2019 going forward. Will it all happen? I certainly doubt it, but at the moment this is everything that makes sense to me. Either way, be sure to share your thoughts for the new year with us in the comments on your favorite social media platform. As always, hope you all have a great new year and we can’t wait to share some new content with you in entirely new ways going forward!
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A few short years ago, I was sitting in a college apartment trying to figure out what was "next" and came up with this idea to share my accumulated knowledge of the Disney Parks and Resorts with others. The end goal was to help others make the most of their Disney experience and it's been quite the journey!