Earlier this month Florida governor Rick Scott paid a visit to Epcot to reveal that 2015 was a record year for the state, as it attracted 105 million visitors, becoming the first US state to pass the 100 million out-of-state and international visitor mark. While this number includes a lot of destinations within the state, Walt Disney World is undoubtedly the state’s biggest draw (which is probably why Scott made the announcement at Epcot), and while official individual theme park attendance numbers for the year won’t be revealed until this spring, we do know that Walt Disney World had several record breaking quarters during the fiscal year, which is certainly a positive indication.
Though this is good news for both Florida tourism and for the Walt Disney company, the fact that Disney broke all these attendance records in a year in which no new attractions opened might have Disney a little worried about 2016, which will have more than a dozen new attractions opening (some of which have only just been announced). However, it looks like Disney has a plan, as there have been some recent changes that will help spread guests out and ensure that visitors during the park's busiest season don't feel the impact of the crushing crowds too terribly.
1. Pushing back the Big Thunder Mountain refurbishment
A big refurbishment for the Big Thunder Mountain attraction has been on the calendar for the Magic Kingdom since late last year. However, in recent days this refurbishment, which was originally scheduled to take place from April 4th through July 16th, has completely disappeared from Disney’s calendar.
Though some might jump to conclusions and speculate that this refurbishment has been cancelled in the wake of across-the-board cuts across Walt Disney World, inside sources are saying that this refurbishment is simply being moved until later in the year to take advantage of the slower fall season. While we still don’t know exactly what is happening during this extended refurbishment (though we do have a few ideas) Disney’s decision to move it away from the busy spring and summer season seems like a smart one.
2. Getting Toy Story Midway Mania’s third track ready as soon as possible
Late last week it was announced that Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's Hollywood Studios will be closed for a one day refurbishment in just a few weeks on March 15th, 2016. During this extremely brief refurbishment, work will be done on the third track expansion, which is still technically scheduled to open Summer 2016.
However, could the need for interior work already on this expansion signal that this third track may be ready for guests sooner than anticipated? While we’ve never received an opening window beyond just “summer 2016” Disney might be preparing to open this expanded attraction sooner than anticipated in advance of other developments happening at this park...