3. A replacement for Stitch’s Great Escape
Certainly, you don’t need us to retell the story of the Declassified Disaster: Stitch’s Great Escape. Cited by many as the worst attraction Walt Disney World has ever housed, this character-converted replacement of the Lost Legend: Alien Encounter was a gross-out, juvenile, direct-to-video horror show that mercifully closed without announcement in 2018. And weirdly, it’s sat empty ever since…
Sure, rumors have come and gone about what Disney’s envisioning for the space – most prominently, a Wreck It Ralph VR simulator – but no official announcement has ever been made, leaving one of Tomorrowland’s two large entry showbuildings just… empty.
While it was Disneyland that was expected to unveil plans for a floor-to-ceiling New Tomorrowland (which, of course, didn’t happen), fans thought that surely ahead of TRON Lightcycle Run turning Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland into the hottest spot in the resort, we’d get something to fill the Stitch space – even if it were just an arcade or a meet-and-greet for now. Instead, it looks like when TRON opens, the iconic Tomorrowland entry that leads to it will be home to a very outdated Monsters Inc. show and an empty building. Odd.
4. The retheming of Disneyland’s Treehouse
Disneyland’s Swiss Family Treehouse opened in 1962 – two years after the Swiss Family Robinson film it’s based on. Guests could ascend 68 steps winding through the limbs of a 60-foot tall, 80-foot wide artificial tree viewing the clever ways that the shipwrecked Robinsons had built a lovely 19th century home in the jungle – including running water! A cherished classic, the walkthrough was supposedly nearly demolished in Disney’s cost-conscious ‘90s…
But an Imagineer’s clever suggestion that the treehouse could be used to promote 1999’s Tarzan deflected the wrecking ball. Climbing a new spiral staircase to a suspension bridge over Adventureland’s pathways, guests would explore the same basic scenes, now repurposing the Swiss Family’s hard work as that of Tarzan’s shipwrecked parents with fiberglass characters and retellings of Tarzan’s story along the route.
Tarzan’s Treehouse operated for more than two decades until September 2021, when it was closed for a refurbishment. But it didn’t re-open. Instead, scaffolding and scrims overtook the tree. It’s not unusual for Disney’s artificial trees to undergo extensive repair and re-leafing, but in April 2022, something weird happened. The entry stump, staircase, and suspension bridge added as part of the 1999 conversion to Tarzan were demolished – no doubt as part of Disneyland’s continuous effort to carve any square footage they can from the park’s infamously tight paths.
While some fans held out hope that the extensive refurbishment would include the return of the Swiss Family branding from exactly 60 years ago, the rumor mill churned that instead, the Treehouse would use its downtime to replace Tarzan with a flavor-of-the-week animated hit, Encanto. (In the film, the Madrigal’s youngest – Antonio – has an enchanted treehouse where he can speak to animals.)
But weirdly, rumors now suggest that the Treehouse won’t house Encanto at all, but instead become the first Disneyland attraction to acknowledge the legendary lore of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (S.E.A.) – the secret club whose globe-spanning mythology connects rides in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Orlando into one overarching frame story.
It makes sense. Disneyland’s Adventureland opened the Tropical Hideaway in 2018, swirling together the mythology of the Enchanted Tiki Room, the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd., Indiana Jones Adventure, and S.E.A. The park’s 2021 relaunch of Jungle Cruise leaned even further in that direction. So repurposing the Treehouse as an adventurous, exploratory, artistic, and scientific S.E.A. base would actually be a very cool thing to do. Weirdly, though, it wasn’t announced at either the Parks Presentation or the S.E.A. Presentation, even though surely this project is very, very close to debuting.
Speaking of being close to debuting...