Walt Disney World and theme parks around the world have reopened, but even though guests are experiencing attractions, purchasing merchandise and dining, some are worried that light crowds could spell trouble for theme parks long term. Though there are likely many reasons why attendance so far has been soft at theme parks, it looks like the future of several much-anticipated projects remains in doubt. 

1. Cirque du Soleil: Drawn to Life

Park: Disney Springs

Original Opening Date: March 20, 2020

Status: Delayed

Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba at Disney Springs closed forever at the end of 2017, but just before it did, Disney confirmed that a new Cirque du Soleil production was being developed for this theater. But this time, this all-new show will have a uniquely Disney flair, and be unlike anything else either Disney or Cirque du Soleil have produced in the past. Based around some of Disney's most iconic films, this new show will “draw its inspiration from Disney's heritage of animation,” and will “celebrate Disney’s legacy of storytelling in Cirque du Soleil’s signature way, with a tribute to the one-of a kind craftsmanship that makes Disney so extraordinary.”

This new show was supposed to begin preview performances on March 20th, but the show was suspended and postponed indefinitely. However, Cirque du Soleil officially filed for bankruptcy protection after weeks of rumors and has said that they are developing a plan to restart its business amid the pandemic. And while this may initially sound like bad news, the company has said that it expects to resume its resident shows in Orlando as soon as possible, and Cirque du Soleil: Drawn to Life could premiere at Disney Springs as soon as this fall if there are no government regulations in place prohibiting large gatherings later this year. 

2. The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash!

Image: Universal

Park: Universal Studios Hollywood

Original Opening Date: March 27, 2020

Status: Delayed until 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, which is now in flux as theme parks in California have had to put their reopenings on hold due to rising COVID-19 cases in the state.  

3. Fantasyland Expansion

Image: Disney

Park: Tokyo Disneyland

Original Opening Date: April 15, 2020

Status: Delayed indefinitely 

Earlier this year the Oriental Land Company revealed that the Fantasyland expansion at Tokyo Disneyland expansion which will include new rides like The Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast and The Happy Ride with Baymax as well as the Minnie’s Style Studio meet-and-greet would open on April 15th, 2020. However, with Tokyo Disney Resort now closed though at least mid-May, the opening of this land has been officially delayed. Like many other projects on this list construction on this new land was basically complete before Tokyo closed earlier this year, with ride testing happening behind the scenes. 

Though the Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea theme parks reopened on July 1, but no grand opening for this new area has been announced yet, and Disney may be reevaluating their plans to give this new expanded land the grand opening it deserves. 

4. Super Nintendo World 

Image: Universal

Park: Universal Studios Japan

Original Opening Date: Summer 2020

Status: Delayed until further notice

One of the most anticipated new lands to be built anywhere is Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan, which features a new "realistic" Mario Kart ride, a Yoshi omnimover dark ride attraction that will be a hybrid indoor/outdoor attraction, and plenty of interactive experiences that make guests feel like they are inside their favorite Nintendo games. 

And though this land was originally supposed to debut this summer to coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Universal Studios Japan has decided to postpone the opening indefinitely over concerns that its popularity could cause a spike in COVID-19 cases in the area. So even though this land is basically done and the theme park is welcoming guests once again, it looks like we're going to need to keep waiting for this new land just a little longer. 

5. Avengers Campus

Image: Disney

Park: Disney California Adventure

Original Opening Date:  July 18, 2020

Status: Delayed until after reopening

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 2020 reopening at this park, we'd guess this new land will be up and running soon, 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. Disney has confirmed that work on this project is nearly complete and they will be opening it as soon as possible once the Disneyland Resort gets the go-ahead to reopen its theme parks. Unfortunately however, it looks like it may be several more months before that can happen as California is confirmed to be going back in to lockdown. 

6. Spaceship Earth reimagining 

Park: Epcot

Original Refurbishment Start Date: May 26, 2020

Status: Cancelled   

Disney announced earlier this year that Spaceship Earth would close for refurbishment on May 26 2020 to begin its transformation into Spaceship Earth: Our Shared Story. And though this ambitious project was set to close this attraction for 18-24 months, insiders have said that this was one of the projects that Disney has cut early on, which means that it looks like Spaceship Earth will stay in its current form indefinitely following the park's reopening.

Though this cancellation has not officially been confirmed, Disney has updated the Spaceship Earth website to indicate that the ride will be reopening with Epcot in July, even though it was supposed to close for refurbishment last month. In addition, when The Epcot Experience reopened earlier this week, the part of the presentation that included the Spaceship Earth refurbishment has been removed, seemingly confirming that this project has been shelved. 

7. Ample Hills Creamery  

 Dakota Gardner

Image: Dakota Gardner

Park: Disney Springs

Original Opening Date:  Fall 2020

Status: Cancelled 

Despite operating a popular location at Disney's BoardWalk Resort for the last 5 years, it has been announced that the Ample Hills Creamery will not reopen, and the Disney Springs location, which was in the early construction phases before the COVID-19 shutdown will not be moving forward. No reason was given for the abrupt removal of Ample Hills from Disney Property, but we'd guess the company is short on cash following its bankruptcy filing earlier this year and it could not reach an agreement to work with Disney

8. Beatrix

Image: Beatrix

Park: Disney Springs

Original Opening Date:  Fall 2020

Status: "On hold"

Beatrix, a new restaurant that was previously under construction at Disney Springs and was set to feature healthy foods including vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan options along with fresh-squeezed juice cocktails has halted construction on their new location. As of right now the entire project is "on hold" according to an official statement by the company with "a restart date yet [to be] determined”. It is unknown if this project is simply delayed or will eventually be cancelled. 

9. Space 220

Image: Disney

Park: Epcot

Original Opening Date:  Spring 2020

Status: TBA

Space 220, an ambitious new dining concept that will be part of the Mission: Space pavilion, was originally slated to open earlier this year, but an issue with broken glass delayed its opening to Spring 2020. And unfortunately when Walt Disney World closed down back in March, this project missed its pushed back opening date. And though Epcot is now open with limited dining options, Space 220 is still not available, and it is unknown when this new dining option could possibly open as there have been no announcements at all about its future. 

10. Ice Breaker

Image: SeaWorld

Park: SeaWorld Orlando

Original Opening Date:  Spring 2020

Status: Delayed until 2021

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. During a recent earnings call, SeaWorld has said that it is likely that this attraction's opening will be delayed until next year, when the park can return to full operation. 


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