This is the weekly rumor and refurbishment update for the Orlando-area theme parks for the week of February 23, 2014.
Walt Disney World:
Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade
Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade will officially debut at the Magic Kingdom on Sunday March 9, 2014. There will likely be no soft openings or public rehearsals of the show before March 9. Along with new floats and costumes, the thing guests may remember the most is the new soundtrack. The complete soundtrack is still unknown, but from the snippets I have heard, it’s going to be a classic that you will hum throughout the day.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
The new parade is not the only new experience coming to the Magic Kingdom in 2014. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is also expect to make its debut in the coming months. The Disney Parks Blog recently held a live chat with one of the Imagineers from the Mine Train. The live chat did not reveal anything new and the same opening date of spring 2014 hasn’t changed.
It’s interesting that a date or even a month has not been announced with only weeks to go until spring. Disney announced the opening for New Fantasyland in August, six months before the actual opening date. It makes me wonder if there are any issues that need to be worked on before Disney is ready to commit to a date. It is always better to not say anything at all, then to release a date that you cannot stick to.
For those of you planning to visit the Magic Kingdom this spring, stay tuned because Disney might not even release a soft opening date for the attraction. Nearly every new Disney World attraction has had soft openings four to eight weeks before the grand opening and I expect the Mine Train to be no different.
Magic Kingdom’s Central Plaza
Disney has just released plans for an expanded Central Plaza and to complement this there are rumors of Disney building a street east of the current Main Street. This rumor began months ago, but is now gaining steam with the Central Plaza project being underway.
The plans for the Main Street bypass are currently to create a simple walkway to the exit and not an entirely new Main Street that will be open all the time. Currently, guests are sometimes shuffled the backside of Main Street after Wishes because Main Street is overcrowded. That backside will be paved with decorative lamp posts and trees to block the view of the alley. A few billboards advertising the shops on Main Street are also rumored to be included. This will merely serve as a quick exit route that will be nicely decorated and not as an entirely new area of the park.
The moat around the Central Plaza is already being drained in preparation for the project - although the moat itself is not being altered except for the area near Main Street. Expect construction to begin immediately and it will be completed in 2015.
It looks like Disney is placing emphasis on improving efficiency at the Magic Kingdom. A new hub, a new Main Street bypass, a new ferry boat landing at the Ticket and Transportation Center, the expanded bus stops that opened last December and the new Rapunzel-themed bathrooms and pathways in Fantasyland all aid in guest efficiency. These projects have no direct correlation to profit for Walt Disney World, but overcrowding is one of the major complaints about the Magic Kingdom and anything to improve that problem will raise guest satisfaction. There may possibly be new expansions to the park we are not aware of and Disney would rather address the crowding issue sooner rather than later when crowds are even more unmanageable.
Star Wars Weekends
An extra weekend of Star Wars Weekends has been added at Disney's Hollywood Studios. That makes a total of five Star Wars Weekend’s this years. The dates for this year’s Star Wars Weekends are:
- May 16 - 18, 2014
- May 23 - 25, 2014
- May 30 - June 1, 2014
- June 6 - 8, 2014
- June 13 - 15, 2014
In addition to the added weekend, the very popular “Symphony in the Stars” fireworks show will be played every weekend. It is very rare for Hollywood Studios to display a fireworks show with the only shows usually being on New Years Eve and 4th of July. It will certainly be an added treat for guests visiting during the weekend. Unfortunately, this means Hyperspace Hoopla, the very popular Star Wars stage show, has retired from the lineup. Although, Disney is promising new entertainment along with the fireworks show.
There is a lot of news surrounding the Magic Kingdom this week, but Universal is not resting either. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley is still projected to open summer 2014 at Universal Studios Florida. A new King Kong area or Jurassic Park expansion is expected to be coming to Islands of Adventure in 2015. Not much information has been released on these rumored projects, but expect Universal to release more information of any expansions after the opening of Diagon Alley.