Though attendance continues to be light at Walt Disney World, this week Epcot debuted part of its main entrance plaza redesign with the addition of a newly reimagined fountain that pays homage to the original park logo. However, though this is an important milestone at Walt Disney World, projects not only at Disney but around the US continue to be delayed and/or cancelled at the COVID-19 Pandemic wears on.
1. Cirque du Soleil: Drawn to Life
Park: Disney Springs
Original Opening Date: March 20, 2020
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!
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
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
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
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 not allowing any theme parks to reopen right now.
6. Spaceship Earth reimagining
Original Refurbishment Start Date: May 26, 2020
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.