Though we know that things will never be the same in the theme park world after the unprecedented closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, one big area where we're expecting to see a lot of change is with big projects. Because there are a lot of projects to keep track of (Walt Disney World alone has more than two dozen projects in the works!), we'll be updating this list weekly with all the major, confirmed delays, cancellations and cuts that have been confirmed (we'll stay away from rumors for now) by their respective parks.
1. The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!
Park: Universal Studios Hollywood
Original Opening Date: March 27, 2020
Status: Delayed until park reopening
One of the first casualties of the theme park closures due to COVID-19 was The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! at Universal Studios Hollywood, which is a dark ride that takes riders on a journey through New York City to reach a pet adoption event and, using facial recognition technology, actually transforms guests into stray puppies in search of their forever homes. This new attraction will blend live, dimensional and animated characters with hyper-realistic media and projection mapping to achieve this effect, all while guests are seated within ride vehicles that resemble cardboard boxes.
This exciting new ride was scheduled to soft open to annual passholders on March 13 (the day Universal Studios Hollywood closed!), and then was to officially open on March 27, 2020. However, the good news is that this attraction is completely finished, and though it may require some testing when Universal Studios Hollywood reopens, we'd imagine it will be able to welcome its first guests within the first week of this park's return to operation.
2. Avengers Campus
Park: Disney California Adventure
Original Opening Date: July 18, 2020
Status: Delayed until later this year
Though the Marvel-themed Avengers Campus was supposed to open this summer along with the new WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure ride, with work completely halted three months before its grand opening, we'll likely have to wait a little longer before experiencing this new area at Disney California Adventure as Disney has changed its official website to now read “Coming Soon” as opposed to the previously-announced opening date. However, as long as we end up seeing a summer reopening at this park, we'd guess this new land will up and running this fall, as work on the interior of the Spider-Man ride was basically complete back in February, with mostly facade work being done around this new area.
As for the rest of the land, unfortunately we don't know how "done" the various eateries and character meet and greet areas are yet, but with the new Spider-Man ride being the main draw for Avengers Campus, we can see Disneyland Resort perhaps doing a phased opening if the restaurants and meet and greet areas are not open yet. Guests will understandably be hesitant to flock back to Disney parks even when they do open, so Disney will likely be in a hurry to get guests in to this new area as soon as possible, and we'd imagine that unless Disney parks stay closed past June 1, this new land (or at least most of it) will be open before years' end.
3. The Borne Stuntacular
Park: Universal Studios Florida
Original Opening Date: Spring 2020
Universal officially confirmed last year that new stunt show The Bourne Stuntacular will be debuting sometime this spring. This new live-action stunt show will feature chase scenes, fistfights, death-defying leaps and more with live performers, high-tech props, and a giant LED screen. And though construction on the theater for this show is complete and rehearsals had entered their final phases, this is one attraction that may not be able to reopen with Universal Studios Florida, as many theme parks may need to practice some amount of social distancing when they reopen, and debuting an attraction in an enclosed, theater space may not be possible, even if the threat of COVID-19 transmission has lessened somewhat.
4. Ice Breaker
Park: SeaWorld Orlando
Original Opening Date: Spring 2020
Status: Delayed until later this year.
SeaWorld has been betting big on their new Ice Breaker roller coaster attraction which was supposed to open this spring, and will blast guests through four different launches, both backwards and forwards, culminating in a reverse launch into the steepest beyond vertical drop in Florida — a 93-foot tall spike with 100-degree angle.
And though this new record-breaking roller coaster has been fully built and its trains placed on the track, SeaWorld's recent financial woes may keep it from testing for awhile, which could delay the opening of this coaster for several weeks or months after this park returns to operation.